Jack Roesler of Rossford chats with Donna Zellner, 91, as he makes her daily delivery to her home in Rossford. He has been with Meals on Wheels for more than four years.
Jack Roesler has been a Meals on Wheels driver for 4 1/2 years and is considered the best of the volunteers at the Rossford Senior Center.
"He will come in at the last minute if somebody doesn't show up or is sick," Mary Tebbe, the center's site manager explained. "These volunteers are extremely important. As a nonprofit agency, we couldn't function without our volunteers."
Mr. Roesler's dedication to Meals on Wheels has not escaped notice of the Wood County Committee on Aging, which operates the program. The agency has made him its nominee for the 2012 American Volunteer contest sponsored by the Meals on Wheels Association in America
The contest winner will be presented with the association's annual Jody Tepedino Nicholo Award, and his or her nominating program will receive a check for $1,000. The second and third place prizes are $750 and $500, respectively.
The committee on aging is asking the public to vote for Mr. Roesler at https://apps.facebook.com/americanvolunteer/entry/296798.Votes can be cast through Aug. 21.
The nominee, for his part, said he very much enjoys being a Meals on Wheels volunteer and plans to continue making deliveries of hot meals to shut-ins once or twice a week during a normal week, and more often when he is needed.
He said he replaced a driver who did not return after knee surgery. "I really like the people. I have some good friendships. You do that for four and a half years, and you get to know people," he said.
Mr. Roesler is 72 and has lived in Rossford for most of his life. He graduated from Rossford High School and the University of Toledo, where he majored in chemical engineering. He is a retired engineer.
A normal delivery day covers seven or eight miles, involves eight to 10 stops, and takes about an hour. But he also fills in on routes of 30 miles that involve 15 to 20 stops and take two hours. His compensation is 45 cents a mile and a free lunch at the senior center.
Denise Niese, the county agency's executive director, said she has about 150 regular Meals on Wheels volunteers operating out of Wood County's seven senior centers. She chose Mr. Roesler as the contest nominee not just because he is an outstanding volunteer, she explained. "We look to see who has overcome a personal challenge and continues to give back to the community."
In Mr. Roesler's case, the personal challenge is cystic fibrosis; he learned six years ago that he has a relatively mild form of the pulmonary disease, and he takes daily treatments for it.
Ms. Niese said Mr. Roesler "is wonderful with the clients. If he has a concern about someone he delivers a meal to, he reports it and one of our nurses follows up."
Mr. Roesler is single and has two children, who live in New Jersey, and five grandchildren.
He has a strong interest in health and nutrition and has been a vegan since 1989; another intellectual preoccupation is climate change. He has spoken on both subjects to area groups at senior centers and Owens Community College.
And he has a special regard for Meals on Wheels. "It's a heck of a good program," he said. "The people really do appreciate it."