Mar 23, 2011 Ned Campbell Uncategorized
You might not know it, but ECHO Meals on Wheels is a staple in the western suburbs of Syracuse. Last year, 192 ECHO volunteers delivered 40,000 meals to 250 residents of Geddes, Camillus, Lakeland, Fairmount, Warners, Solvay, Onondaga, Marcellus, Elbridge and Westvale.
“A lot of people don’t know about us, or what we do, or have misconceptions,” said ECHO board President and volunteer Lori Gulgert. “They think you have to qualify in some way, by income, by age or whatever, and you do not.”
For those in need, all it takes to have low-priced meals delivered to your home is a phone call to the ECHO Meals on Wheels office at 4600 West Genesee St. ECHO (Ecumenical Community Helping Others) delivers to the chronically ill; those temporarily indisposed due to accident, illness or surgery; homebound residents who wish to improve their diet; senior citizens whose live-in relatives are away or at work; and those people that otherwise would not have an adequate meal.
March is National Meals on Wheels Awareness Month. Today, mayors and town supervisors across the country participated in Mayors for Meals, assisting volunteers and staff on their regular routes. Marcellus Mayor John Curtin, Camillus Town Supervisor Mary Ann Coogan and Geddes Town Supervisor Manny Falcone contributed to the local effort, helping deliver a good portion of the day’s 140 meals.
“This day is set aside for the mayors and other town dignitaries to participate with Meals on Wheels in delivering meals to bring attention to the need to end senior hunger,” Gulgert said.
She said it’s great for communities to see that their elected officials “are interested in the demographics of the area they serve and recognize the need for organizations like this.”
More than 1,000 mayors and supervisors participated in last year’s effort.
“For us it’s wonderful, because it gives us a little attention,” Gulgert said.
ECHO, a not-for-profit corporation, is not subsidized by either the county, state or federal government.
“Therefore, we rely heavily on donations from local residents, businesses and community organizations to be able to continue to grow and serve our community,” Gulgert said.
Meals are delivered five days a week. Mid-day warm meals cost $3.75, frozen meals cost $2 and bag lunches cost $1.50. The frozen meals provide those in need with food on the weekends and holidays.
Gulgert said ECHO survives on its own fundraising efforts and thanks to its dedicated volunteers, who assist in both the preparation and delivery of meals. Within the entire operation, ECHO has only two paid employees – who are both the main cooks and coordinators.
“We’ve got 192 volunteers. That says something about the people that we have in these areas,” Gulgert said. “I think the western suburbs are a close knit community. Most of our volunteers are retired people and they want to serve the community and give back.”
To sign up to have Meals on Wheels delivered to your home, or to become a volunteer, call 487-2878. You can also learn more online at www.townofcamillus.com.