Editor’s Note: Meals On Wheels is now accepting new volunteers through this time of the COVID-19 crisis.
Whether it is due to an inability to prepare meals, shop for groceries, or a lack of outside support, fewer older adults are getting the nutrients they need to sustain healthy, productive lives. That’s where Deupree Meals On Wheels comes in.
Since 1989, Deupree Meals On Wheels in Hyde Park has provided older adults in the eastern portion of Cincinnati with warm and nutritious meals delivered right into their homes. The program strives to supplement family support by providing older adults with a healthy meal and social contact.
To learn more about this program and how it can transform the lives of Cincinnati seniors, we sat down with the director of Deupree Meals On Wheels, Tsippy Gottlieb, to discuss her role and perspective.
Q: Can you describe your role at Deupree Meals On Wheels?
TSIPPY: As the director of Deupree Meals On Wheels, I supervise a program that serves close to 500 clients who are primarily older adults or individuals with disabilities. Many are homebound and cannot prepare complete, nutritious meals for themselves. The Meals On Wheels program delivers about 128,000 meals annually in Hamilton County. I am responsible for the operation of this delivery system, with a quality assurance system in place that ensures that all we do is according to the guidelines and specifications of our different funding sources. These require operations that are based on specific social services, but also follow an efficient business model. This program is in direct alignment with the Core Values of the Episcopal Retirement Services which results in a community-wide outreach ministry.
Q: What was your experience like before Deupree Meals On Wheels? What brought you to this position?
TSIPPY: I have worked in the field of gerontology for almost 30 years. With a nursing degree and a Master’s in health care systems, I worked over the years in different management positions serving vulnerable populations. Before I came to ERS, I supervised a multi-service senior center that provided community based programs and services for over 14 years. Deupree House has an excellent reputation for being one of the top workplaces in Cincinnati. Their culture of compassion and care, and their mission as a community ministry are a good fit for my background and experience.
Q: What do you enjoy most about being the Director of Deupree Meals on Wheels?
TSIPPY: I enjoy the fact that as the director of this program, I can integrate my experience and skills with the ability to help others directly. To know that I am touching lives is very rewarding, and deeply satisfying when clients express how much they appreciate our services. I also find this work enjoyable in the fact that every day is different. I find that I can address a multitude of challenges with my problem solving and analytical skills that have been honed with over thirty years of experience.
Q: What makes Deupree Meal On Wheels different from other Meals On Wheels services?
TSIPPY: The Deupree Meals on Wheels program is part of ERS’s mission and culture. This program is not just a meal, but is based on the Core Values of ERS which are Relationships, Integrity, Engagement, Inclusion, Person-Centeredness, and Progressive Thinking. We provide a culture of compassion, empathy, and quality services.
Deupree Meals on Wheels also includes an amazing group of volunteers who come from a variety of different backgrounds, and over 14 different zip codes in Hamilton County. Their dedication and commitments have made a big impact on the very positive relationships that have developed over years. We have an amazing team that serves our clients on a daily basis with care and love.
The executive staff with ERS is very supportive of our Meals On Wheels program, allowing us to be creative and innovative in serving our clients. As a result our operation is focused on our client’s satisfaction with the quality of our services and excellence with their meals.
Q: What do you think is the biggest benefit of Deupree Meals On Wheels for seniors?
TSIPPY: Our program provides our clients with their daily necessary nutritional support, and the opportunity to maintain and retain independence in their own homes. For clients who have difficulty shopping or cooking, this program offers an essential and convenient support system. We also partner with other social service providers that can bring holistic support to our clients should they require additional care. On top of its dietary advantages, the Meals On Wheels program is often the only point of daily contact for many homebound people. The program provides a daily human touch and a safety check by a visit from a friendly volunteer or a Meals On Wheels driver.
Q: What are the benefits of volunteering for Deupree Meals on Wheels?
TSIPPY: I see the benefits of volunteering for Deupree Meals On Wheels in two ways: they give and receive. Giving back to one’s community gives one a greater sense of purpose by knowing each day you’re about to do something meaningful. It’s not about what we do for ourselves, it’s about how we are able to bring improvements to the lives of the people around us – our loved ones, and the people in our community. Currently we have 79 volunteers from the ages of 30 to 80, all of whom want to give back to their community.
Q: What does it take to become a volunteer?
TSIPPY: All it takes is a commitment to provide 1.5 hours once a week in the morning. Meals are generally delivered between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.
All volunteers must pass a background check, and attend an orientation before they can start to deliver meals. We also try to accommodate our volunteers’ preferences for which locations they would like to serve. Their support typically consists of delivery of a nutritious meal, a friendly visit, and a safety check. They touch the lives of almost 500 clients by brightening their day, showing them compassion and care.
We offer several options for meal deliveries. Meals can be delivered individually, with a friend, a partner or spouse, or as part of a larger group. We currently have three local churches, several social groups, and some workplace groups which have organized into delivery teams. Another option is for an intergenerational experience. Grandparents have brought their grandchildren with them on meal deliveries during school breaks. This is a great opportunity to encourage and teach the younger generation about senior sensitivity.
Q: Are there other ways readers can help DMOW fulfill our mission?
TSIPPY: Readers can learn more about our program by contacting our office at 513-561-8150. They can consider delivering meals, assisting with the packing of the meals, or make referrals to us regarding clients who could benefit from our services.
Our Meals On Wheels program is open to private paying clients, as well as clients who are referred to us through Council on Aging. This is a wonderful program to give back to one’s community and to receive gratitude and appreciation from those served.
Want to learn more about Deupree Meals On Wheels? Give them a call at the number above. To make a donation and help Deupree Meals On Wheels and other ERS services fulfill their mission, click here.