Volunteering is an extremely rewarding experience - no matter your stage of life! If you are interested in volunteering with us, but are feeling a little hesitant before filling out the application, this page is for you. Here you will find volunteer expectations, guidelines, and a list of frequently asked questions. If you have a concern prior to volunteering that is not addressed on this page, please let us know!
Meals on Wheels of Haywood County would not be able to operate without the dedication and hard work of our volunteers! We are extremely grateful that our volunteers choose to serve our community with Meals on Wheels. When you decide to join our wonderful team of volunteers, here are the expectations we hold all of our volunteers to:
- Arrive to the Meals on Wheels dock in a timely manner for delivery. We ask volunteers to arrive between 9:30AM and 10:30AM to pick up their meals and materials.
- Read your route sheet when you arrive for deliveries, as we sometimes have to change recipients and meal deliveries week to week.
- Complete your route sheet with availability, signature, number of meals delivered, and any minor concerns you noted.
- Deliver all meals to recipients prior to 12:15PM or let them know you are running late with their meals.
- Give extra meals away to other recipients or return them to the Meals on Wheels kitchen when recipients are not home or unavailable to receive their meal delivery.
- Participate in a quick volunteer training on your first day, one training in the fall, and a day of appreciation for all your hard work!
- Maintain clear and consistent communication with Meals on Wheels staff members in person, via email, and over the phone.
- Inform Meals on Wheels staff (828-356-2442) or Adult Protective Services (828-356-6200) when you have concerns about a recipient's safety and/or wellbeing.
- Bring a positive attitude and willingness to connect with recipients on your route!
Do's & Do Not's
- Try to speak with each and every recipient on your route, whether by phone or in-person.
- Let Meals on Wheels staff know when you are unavailable to run a route.
- Try to coordinate a substitute driver for your route when you are unavailable.
- Notify Meals on Wheels staff of any contact information changes.
- Alerting Meals on Wheels staff when you have any concerns about recipients, their safety, their wellbeing, and/or their home.
- If Meals on Wheels staff is unavailable to speak about an emergency or very pressing concerns, we highly encourage you to reach out to Adult Protective Services (828-452-6620).
- Leaving a voicemail or doorhanger for recipients who are not home and did not put a cooler with ice/ice packs out for delivery.
- Give money or additional food items to recipients.
- Transport recipients in your personal vehicle during delivery times.
- Visit with other recipients on days you do not deliver during delivery times. After 12:00PM, please feel free to visit recipients you have bonded with!
- Administer any medication to recipients. We encourage volunteers not to handle any medications so there is no confusion.
- Deliver in unsafe conditions.
- Throughout the winter, volunteers are encouraged to decide based on their own comfortability with driving in inclement weather whether or not to deliver on those days.
- Perform duties or provide services to recipients that cross your personal boundaries or are not within your scope as a volunteer.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes! As we are a program of the Haywood County Health and Human Services Agency, we observe most federally recognized holidays. We send out our calendar of yearly closings to each recipient.
Occasionally, Meals on Wheels will need to cancel delivery due to inclement weather. When this is the case, our recipients and volunteers will receive a pre-recorded phone message with the cancellation notice. Additionally, we inform Channel 13 (WLOS) when we are closed due to weather, and encourage all recipients to tune in if inclement weather is anticipated!
Often times, our recipients will ask volunteers for additional assistance. They may ask you to do simple, household tasks like taking their trash bags out to the can or picking up their mail from the end of the driveway. It is completely up to the volunteer to determine whether or not they will complete these additional requests. That being said, there are a few things that Meals on Wheels volunteers are explicitly asked not to do:
- Please do not give money to recipients or accept offers of money from recipients.
- Please do not hand out additional food items to recipients at time of delivery. Volunteers do not have access to recipients' medical information and could potentially give out a food item that a recipient cannot eat.
- Please do not help recipients with administering ANY medication. To avoid any confusion, we advise that Meals on Wheels volunteers do not touch recipient medication.
- Please do not transport a recipient while delivering meals.
- Please do not purchase items (clothing, food, household, pet, etc.) for recipients.
We ask that all volunteers let us know if someone on their route needs additional supplies. We have the ability to connect recipients to community resources, organizations, and suppliers for their needs. If you have a concern about the recipient's safety, please let MOW staff know and/or call Adult Protective Services (828-356-6200) to make a report.
If you are concerned the recipient is experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911 immediately. Please alert Meals on Wheels staff when you feel the recipient is safe.
If the concerns are not an emergency, please let Meals on Wheels staff know. You can do this upon your return to the facility, via email/phone call/text message, and/or you can alert Adult Protective Services (828-356-6200). From there, Meals on Wheels staff will take the appropriate action within the Haywood Health and Human Services Agency or by working with our other community partners to address the concern.
If you are a substitute driver, you will more than likely deliver to different recipients each week.
If you are a regular route driver, you will more than likely deliver to the same group of recipients each week.
Having said that, our routes do fluctuate throughout the year due to the nature of our program. Meals on Wheels staff is unable to release any medical information pertaining to recipients as we are bound to a strict confidentiality policy. We do encourage all volunteers to exchange personal contact information with any recipient they grow especially close to, as the recipients may inform volunteers of any of their health changes.
Please let Meals on Wheels staff know immediately of any negative experiences with a recipient!
Volunteer safety, comfortability, and experience are extremely important to us. Without volunteer participation, Meals on Wheels would not be able to continue providing this vital service to the Haywood County community. In the event of an extreme negative experience, we will discuss reassigning either the volunteer or the recipient to an alternative route.
We encourage volunteers to set firm boundaries with Meals on Wheels recipients. While we want our volunteers and recipients to form a close bond, we do not want to compromise either party's health and safety. If a recipient asks you to come spend time with them, please ensure that:
- Your visit to your recipient is NOT during Meals on Wheels delivery hours.
- You clearly communicate and stand firm in your personal boundaries.
- You keep in mind the 'DOs/DONTs' of volunteering with Meals on Wheels.
- Your recipient knows that you are NOT volunteering with Meals on Wheels during the visit.
If you have further questions about visiting with Meals on Wheels recipients outside of delivery hours, please contact the program coordinator.
There could be many different reasons! Sometimes a recipient cancels meals for a few days because their fridge is well-stocked, sometimes a recipient cancels meals completely because their dietary restrictions are incompatible with our menu. It depends on the day and the recipient!
If Meals on Wheels staff is aware of the recipient's situation, we will be happy to share what details we can with volunteers. Please keep in mind that we are bound to a strict confidentiality policy, and sometimes recipients do not share their reasoning for meal cancellation. We will notify volunteers if/when a recipient on their route passes away or will be cancelling meal delivery on a permanent basis.