LeRoy Bunge loads his car with lunches as his granddaughter Traci Grams looks on. Mr. Bunge has been a driver for 10 years and makes three to five runs a week in Bedford Township.
TEMPERANCE -- LeRoy Bunge is a stalwart with the Bedford Senior Community Center's Meals on Wheels program.
The 88-year-old is always available, even at short notice, to deliver meals in the township. Some months he has put more than 600 miles on his car.
He's been a Meals on Wheels driver for about 10 years and is the program's oldest. He formerly made deliveries with his wife, Cleo, who died in 2010, and always makes at least three runs a week but often four or five.
Mr. Bunge is exactly the kind of dedicated volunteer Rosemary Sutton, the program's coordinator, is looking for. She has about 60 volunteers, but needs more. "I'm always looking for volunteers," she said.
This will be especially true later in the year, she said, when the senior center relocates from Samaria Road in the north part of Bedford Township to the former Smith Road Elementary School in Temperance, where the area is more populous and she believes more people will become aware of the program. At Smith Road, the senior center will have a lot more room and a new kitchen.
Barbara Walters prepares lunches at the Bedford Senior Center. The center is to move this year from Samaria Road to the former Smith Road Elementary.
Right now, Ms. Sutton said, the volunteers deliver about 60 meals a day, but "we hope to see a big increase after the move," which is slated for fall or winter. She's looking for volunteers just like the ones she has.
"I depend 150 percent on LeRoy," Ms. Sutton explained. "I depend on all of our volunteers. They're fabulous. But I take more advantage of LeRoy because he's always there."
Mr. Bunge, for his part, said he doesn't feel taken advantage of in the least. He lives in Ottawa Lake and enjoys his hours filled with delivering meals. As a treat, he also likes to deliver altar flowers from his Lutheran church to the meal recipients on his route.
Ms. Sutton said the human contact and rapport established with the meal recipients on their route are a big reason her volunteers continue their service.
The meals themselves are delivered at noontime after being prepared at the senior center. On Fridays, extra food is delivered to tide the recipients over the weekend.
To be eligible, a recipient must be at least 60 or disabled and living in a noninstitutional household, be homebound, and be unable to obtain food or prepare complete meals. A doctor's note attesting to these conditions must be provided. A donation of $3.50 a meal is suggested.
Debbie Tubbs, the senior center's head cook, said she puts great stock in making sure the meals are freshly prepared every day for pickup and delivery. The meals she sends out are the same ones she serves at the senior center and range from pulled pork sandwiches to stuffed cabbage to turkey pot roast and meat loaf and gravy.
Ruth Satkowski of Temperance is 83 and volunteers as a Meals on Wheels runner four or five times a week, accompanying a driver and taking meals from the vehicle to the recipient. She keeps dog treats in her pocket, and all the pooches on her route know her.
"They come running to the door wagging their tails," she said.