Mobile Meals Drivers Brave Cold Temperatures

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AKRON -- With temperatures dipping to dangerous single digits across northeast Ohio, health experts suggest checking on older people, many of whom live alone, to make sure they are okay.

In Summit, Cuyahoga, Lorain, Medina and Portage counties, Meals on Wheels - Mobile Meals drivers will be visiting about 2,500 clients, delivering a hot meal, but also checking on residents.

"So many of our people are people who live alone. They live in their individual homes, they live in apartments, but even living in apartments, often times they stay in their apartment, so the only person they talk to is the driver that delivers their meal," said Phil Marcin of Mobile Meals.

Drivers say that they have developed a close relationship with many of their clients who simply cannot do many things for themselves under the best of circumstances.

"Things we take for granted, they can't do. You get their mail for them, take their trash in and they think that is ... they think they hit the lottery almost, you know, because someone is doing something for them and paying attention to them," said one driver who asked to be identified only as Tom.

"I love the people. I love the job," said Glenn Pelfrey, who has been driving for sixteen years. "Feels like I'm doing something important, so I kind of feel good about my job."

Most Meals on Wheels clients are 60 and older.

If drivers do not get an answer at the door or feel something is wrong, they can call their office and a next of kin will be contacted.

"We have found people that have fallen, they can't get up and things like that. It's just nice to have someone check on these people, give them a hot meal, but still check on them and make sure they are okay," said Tom.

Clients understand that the drivers do care about them and the drivers say the concern goes both ways.

There are times when the weather is so dangerous that Mobile Meals is also forced to close.

The organization was carefully monitoring Tuesday's forecast.

Marcin says for cases like that, the organization has already delivered what they call "blizzard boxes," which are shelf-stable meals that the clients can prepare for themselves.

Meals on Wheels - Mobile Meals operates with contributions and uses both paid and volunteer drivers and preparers.

To help, contribute, or sign-up for assistance, click here.