Ford, age 4, flips through picture books and Norah, 14 months, nibbles on crackers, with their mothers chatting in the front seat of the minivan – it could have been a shared drive to a play date anywhere, but the group is on a weekly route with a purpose.
Norah’s mom, Courtney Sollie, brings along a rotating group of friends and their children on a weekly volunteer route in Springfield, delivering Meals on Wheels to homebound older adults. The West Orange resident and mother of four (the other three children are in school during the day) enjoys the company while she’s driving. “Volunteering with Meals on Wheels is a great thing for moms with small kids. When the friend that comes with me has kids, we bring them, and sometimes they’ll eat lunch in the car together, or we laugh and sing songs,” Sollie said. “It’s like a coffee date or play date with friends, except we’re doing something good.”
Sollie and her friends and the children aren’t the only ones enjoying themselves. As Meals on Wheels recipient Ursula answered the door, her smile kept growing. She was excited to see Courtney and receive her lunch, but her joy was aimed at the littlest helpers with Courtney that were carrying her tray and milk. She welcomed the questions that Ford asked about her “statues” (figurines) and her children’s photos on the wall as his mom, Skye Monahan, of West Orange, held his hand.
Sollie connected with Meals on Wheels at SAGE for the “Inaugural Service Day” on Inauguration Day. After that, she realized it was something she could do with her children in tow and asked to get a regular route assignment. “My grandfather was a volunteer for Meals on Wheels in Pennsylvania so it was nice to be able to do something that had significance in my family,” she said. “It’s been really fun, and the families are so appreciative and it feels like such a small thing for me to do. We might be the only person they speak to all day, and it’s nice to be that person.”
SAGE Volunteer Coordinator Amy Stuart is grateful for Sollie’s help and encourages others to think of volunteering even with small children in their care. “Courtney is a great role model for her kids and for other parents. We’re so glad she found a way to volunteer and make it enjoyable for her children, as well,” Stuart said. “SAGE depends on the support of its volunteers to make a difference in the lives of older adults in our community.”
In addition to delivering Meals on Wheels, there are many projects and opportunities for volunteers at SAGE. Volunteers are also needed for the weekly SAGE grocery shopping and errand service, becoming a program assistant with the Spend-A-Day adult day health care program, various office-related tasks, and more. Please call: 908.598.5514 or visit: https://www.sageeldercare.org/help-sage/volunteer/ for more information.
About SAGE Eldercare
Since 1954, SAGE Eldercare has been helping make the communities it serves amazing places to age. The non-profit organization provides a wide array of information, support, and services designed to help individuals lead the most independent and active lives possible. From helping with errands and delivering Meals on Wheels, to exercise classes, community programs, Medicare counseling, care planning, an adult day health care program, and home health care, as well as the SAGE Resale Shop and Furniture Restoration Workshop, SAGE’s expertise helps older adults remain independent in their own homes. SAGE is committed to being the leading provider of programs and services to meet the changing needs of older adults, their families, and caregivers throughout Union, Essex, Morris, and Somerset Counties. For more information, please call 908.273.5550 or visit www.sageeldercare.org.
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PHOTOS (by Jennifer Hinger):
1-Courtney and Norah (age 14 months) Sollie, of West Orange, deliver meals in Springfield for SAGE Eldercare’s Meals on Wheels. Courtney brings along a rotating group of friends and their children to make volunteering like a “play date while doing something good.” For more information about volunteering at SAGE, visit: https://www.sageeldercare.org/help-sage/volunteer/ or call 908.598.5514.
2- West Orange residents Skye and Ford (age 4) Monahan and Courtney and Norah (age 14 months) Sollie pose with one of the Meals on Wheels participants after delivering her lunch in Springfield. The friends make volunteering for SAGE Eldercare’s Meals on Wheels like a “play date while doing something good.” For more information about volunteering at SAGE, visit: https://www.sageeldercare.org/help-sage/volunteer/ or call 908.598.5514.