THE local "diamonds" at each of the Meals on Wheels (MoW) services across Australia take centre stage today, August 28, as their enormous contribution to their communities, is marked on the 60th National Meals on Wheels Day.
This will be an occasion where MoW can recognise the work of more than 80,000 volunteers.
In the course of a year, they deliver around 14 million meals to more than 60,000 people Australia wide in cities, regional and rural areas.
Taree Meals on Wheels employs five staff, has 250 volunteers and provides a service for 120 people in the Manning Valley. According to the Australian Meals on Wheels association president, Ron Welsh, "This day marks the real progress we have made from those humble beginnings in South Melbourne, where a lady on a tricycle delivered a few meals to local residents".
It is an opportunity to highlight to the Australian people the significant contribution that is made to the community by 680 Meals on Wheels services and some 80,000 volunteers across Australia."
Mr Welsh said the theme for this year's national MoW conference, starting just prior to the birthday week is, "Diamonds are Forever".
"We want to share our celebrations with all of the people we serve, so branches, kitchens and services across the nation will deliver their own special way to mark the occasion," he said.
"The Meals on Wheels service and volunteers across the Australia, not only provide a nutritious meal to over 60,000 clients each year, but also provide an important community connection through calling at homes each day to provide a cheery welcome, daily contact and monitor the wellbeing of each valued client, hence our national theme 'More than just a meal'," he said.
While the tradition and values of Meals on Wheels remain true to its origins 60 years ago, a focus on engaging people of all ages from all walks of life is unfolding and bringing renewed energy, ideas and vision to help the organisation continue to provide a vital service. The multicultural nature of society is echoed in the food, faces and friendships that typify Meals on Wheels across the nation.
The economic value of the Meals on Wheels service is in excess of $350 million per year.
While services receive some government funding, they could not operate without volunteers to keep costs down and make meals affordable for clients.
Clients can self-refer to Meals on Wheels if they believe they may benefit from the service or they can be referred, for example by a health practitioner or family member.
If you wish to volunteer or know someone who might need Taree Meals on Wheels, please phone 6551 3166 or visit the web site for more information: http://www.mowtaree.com.au/scripts/menu.php