SWK/Hilltowns

Drivers sought to deliver meals to homebound elders

WESTFIELD-While Highland Valley Elder Services offers an extensive array of programs, a top priority is its home delivered meals – Meals on Wheels – ensuring every person over 60 receives at least one nutritionally balanced meal each day.

Drivers – both paid and volunteers – are currently needed in the Westfield area, according to Catherine Twiss, associate director of Human Resources.

“We are hiring one paid driver for the Westfield area and one paid driver for the Northampton area,” said Twiss, adding, “We always welcome volunteer drivers in both locations.”

The Meals on Wheels program provides noon and evening meals on weekdays, and frozen weekend meals to those 60 and older who are unable to prepare nutritious meals, have no one to assist them with meal preparation, or are unable to attend a local dining center. The program also offers modified diabetic meals.

“The menus are strictly regulated for nutritional content by the Executive Office of Elder Affairs and other regulatory bodies,” said Twiss. “Each menu is constructed with the help of a licensed and registered dietitian we have on staff.”

A tasty dessert is always a part of every meal delivered by Highland Valley Elder Services. (CATHERINE TWISS PHOTO)

Twice a year elders also receive produce bags with fruits and vegetables donated by local farms.

Funding sources for Meals on Wheels include the City of Westfield Community Development Block Grant.

“The driver will usually bring the meal to the door and do a brief wellness check, simply making sure that the elder is OK – no more than five minutes per stop,” said Twiss.

Twiss noted that if an elder has mobility issues or some other reason, the driver may be instructed to bring the meal inside the home, perhaps putting the food in the refrigerator.

“Special instructions for each meal recipient are detailed on a daily route sheet given to the driver at the beginning of their shift,” she said.

The organization provides all its employees and volunteers with free personal protective equipment, ranging from masks, gloves and hand sanitizer to face shields and goggles.

“Safety always comes first,” said Twiss. “We are happy to report that from the beginning of the pandemic to the present, we have not missed one day of meal delivery. We are proud of that record and proud of our employees and volunteers for being the heroes that they are.”

Persons interested in the driving positions need to pass a background check, have good references, a valid driver’s license, and a reliable vehicle, according to Twiss.

“Most importantly, they need to care about the welfare of seniors in our community,” said Twiss. “We offer mileage reimbursement for both paid and volunteer drivers.”

Twiss added that drivers will have a Monday to Friday schedule, delivering meals from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. The Westfield meal pick-up time is at 10:45 a.m. at 62 School St.

“We ask for a one-year commitment to the agency,” she said. 

For persons interested in the positions, contact Twiss at (413) 588-5765 or send an email to her at [email protected]

For persons interested in more information about Highland Valley services, call (413) 586-2000 or visit www.highlandvalley.org.

“Our service area covers Westfield and surrounding towns to the south and west,” said Twiss.

The towns served by Highland Valley include Blandford, Chester, Granville, Huntington, Middlefield, Montgomery, Russell, Southwick, Tolland and Worthington.

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