While we continue to run a 50-year-old operation providing meals and regular company to over 400 clients per day, we have also created a family here at Lancaster MOW. Many of our volunteers are retirees who over the years have grown to be close friends. Recently, we have also provided several career opportunities for young adults. We have created partnerships as well as job opportunities for a diverse group of individuals who are able to capitalize on their unique skill sets and interest areas within our organization which in turn has allowed us to operate more efficiently.
Last year, we created a job training program with two young women – Congolese refugees who were able to develop a combination of job skills in our kitchen, office administration, as well as English language tutoring with our Volunteer Services Coordinator, Elisa Benner who holds her Master’s Degree in teaching English as a second language. We’ve also been able to focus on converting to a scratch kitchen with the skills of our cooks who are both technically trained, each holding degrees in the culinary arts. You may have also noticed our new website and active social media presence. This is because we were able to create a digital media coordination position which has helped increase notoriety and more diverse volunteer opportunities for people of all ages.
“Over the last 3 years I have interacted with many Meals on Wheels programs nationally and regionally. There are always fears and excitements in any industry but for the Home Delivered Meal sector there is one fear that seems ever present. We are aging and cannot do this much longer, who will take over when we hang up our keys? Comments such as this reveal the need for succession planning and volunteer recruitment.” states Executive Director, Kevin Ressler.
At Lancaster MOW we have collaborated with Excentia, J.P McCaskey High School and Conestoga Valley School District to increase our route coverage through their job training programs for adults and students with disabilities. With Bethany Christian Services we have begun creating a job training program for refugees and at risk foster children as they age out of the supportive systems that exist. We are also working with The Shalom Project bringing Feleen Nancarvis, a college educated full-time volunteer doing a program where she helps us develop our capacity and increase our program offerings.
It’s beyond partnerships, though, it’s also what and how we are seeing ourselves as an organization. In the past we’ve seen ourselves purely as a place for retiree aged volunteers with a few others who happen to show up. But we need to, and now do, see ourselves as an effective and impact driven non-profit organization. This is the way in which we advance our agenda to fight senior hunger and provide nutritional support for people recovering from short term disability.
Our hiring practices have begun to focus on talent recruitment, bringing Nate Truitt in as Kitchen Manager due to his experiences and training both as a gluten free chef and graduate of the culinary program at the Art Institute of Atlanta. We brought Dana Getz, a graduate of York Technical Institute’s culinary program, to work on our Digital Media marketing and create our global fair in order to reach an increased demographic and blast freezer meals to provide meals for clients over the weekend. Upon our adoption of territories in the Chester County area, we brought Mark Lehman on board as a staff delivery driver providing meals in Christiana, Gap, and Parkesburg. We’ve also retained the institutional knowledge of Anne Costarella, Jean Buch, and Michael Frailey to make sure that what we do fits with what we have always done.
Here at Lancaster MOW, we believe strongly in diversity because it opens our minds to new perspectives. When we see from the lens of other people we begin to see more clearly the whole story. Our staff is able to learn so much from each other; perspectives from different cultures and different generations. It has made our team more effective and efficient.