“It’s such a happy atmosphere!” says Polly Langer, volunteer coordinator for Meals on Wheels, which operates out of the Dutch Reformed Church in the center of Woodstock. Over 60 volunteers are involved in the process of preparing and delivering daily meals to area residents who are unable to do their own shopping and cooking, with further assistance coming from stores, schools, and religious organizations.
“We deliver hot meals five days a week,” explained Langer, “and on Fridays we drop off two extra meals for the weekend.” Special meals are delivered on Christmas, New Year’s Day, and Thanksgiving. And all the workers are volunteers except the cook, Roseanne Maclary.
Staff includes shoppers, kitchen help, and drivers, most of them working one day a week, although Langer enjoys the camaraderie so much, she comes in twice a week. The kitchen operates from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., with two or three people helping Maclary. “Many of these ladies have been active in church and know how to feed a lot of people,” said Langer. “They understand people’s needs. A lot of them grew up in this town.”
Langer taught school in Fort Lee, New Jersey, for 43 years before retiring to Woodstock. One day she heard someone regretting that her forthcoming sojourn in Florida would leave the Meals on Wheels staff short-handed. Langer offered to help out and ended up staying.
Ellen Osgood and Lester Fensterheim were looking around for a volunteer opportunity when they moved to Phoenicia in 1999. They became drivers for Meals on Wheels and are now co-presidents of the board of directors, which meets four times a year, “just to fill in everyone on the finances, make sure we follow State Board of Health rules and IRS rules. But it runs seamlessly — everyone knows that they’re doing.” The kitchen is inspected regularly by the Board of Health.
Osgood said drivers develop relationships with the clients, stopping to chat at each delivery. “Lester and I became friendly with one woman who’s now in a nursing home. We go visit and remember her on birthday and holidays. One gentleman had a stroke and couldn’t speak. He could only move one hand.” When the couple was off-duty and driving by, if he was sitting outside, they would stop and visit, bringing along their little dog.