Jan 03, 2014 Russ Tarby Uncategorized
The worldwide oil crisis lingered. Lee Alexander was still mayor of Syracuse, John Mulroy was still Onondaga County executive, and Richard Nixon was still president of the United States. The year was 1974, and Bob and Linda Jackson embarked on a mission of community service which they continue to this day.
The kindly couple, who live on Ridgecrest Drive in North Syracuse, have been volunteering for 40 years now for North Area Meals on Wheels (NAMOW).
“It was started by a faith-based group of people doing good deeds,” Linda said, “and we started cooking in our home kitchen. Our minister was part of the North Area Pastor’s Association, and he knew of a few people in need of help, people who could only remain in their homes if they could have food delivered.”
Linda began by cooking meals for three people who were homebound members of her church. The food was picked up and delivered by others. By 1976 there were 16 clients, and the volunteers had outgrown their kitchen space and supplies.
Several folks from various North Syracuse churches coordinated cooks and drivers, planned menus, shopped for groceries and kept things organized. The North Area Council of Churches was formed and took Meals on Wheels under its wing. A board of directors was formed.
CROP Walk roots
The service was largely funded by the CROP Walks run by the Christian Rural Overseas Program which had been established in 1947 to help feed war-torn Europe. In 1977 Meals on Wheels withdrew from the council of churches and became formally incorporated, but the CROP Walk program still gives money to NAMOW today.
Over the years the North Area kitchen has moved several times due to increased demand. Linda served on the board of directors for several years.
“This organization has been fortunate to have retirees looking to stay involved in their community who joined our board,” Linda remembered. Luckily, she said, “Many were business people who still had contacts and knew how to raise money.”
A concerted effort by a hardworking community led to construction of a building where North Area Meals on Wheels could prepare meals and coordinate their distribution. The building opened in 2005 on Church Street in North Syracuse.
Bob and Linda still deliver meals every week, and Bob prepares the driver route sheets. In October Linda and Bob were honored for their four decades of service at a celebratory reception.
The Jacksons have never regretted their decision to get involved. “It has been a joy and a privilege to be a volunteer at Meals on Wheels,” Linda said.
Volunteers = heart
Volunteers are still the heart and backbone of the Meals on Wheels organization, said Janet Polech, NAMOW’s marketing committee chairwoman. Janet, who lives in Liverpool on Cinnamon Path, is also a volunteer driver.
“We all enjoy fulfilling our mission to provide nutritious meals to the elderly, homebound and disabled in northern Onondaga County,” Janet said.
NAMOW currently has 250 active volunteers who service 22 delivery routes and more than 260 meal recipients daily.
“This time of year so many folks are focused on giving to the less fortunate,” Janet said, “but NAMOW and its volunteers work all year to reach out to our neighbors in need.” Meals on Wheels welcomes anyone interested in volunteering in its kitchen or delivering meals, and training is provided. If interested, you can call 452-1402 between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m.
First Street flowing
First Street traffic seems far less congested now that Andrello’s Impact Martial Arts has moved into the new Pacific Health Club at 604 Old Liverpool Road.
When the karate facility operated at 318 First St. for the past several years, students’ parents would routinely double-park in the street while awaiting their kids to finish their lessons. Now they can cool their jets in Pacific’s huge parking lot rather than blocking one of the village’s most important arterials.