Friendsville churches help start Meals on Wheels program
By Rheta Murry | (email@example.com)
With a flurry of paper and plastic sacks and a prayer, Meals on Wheels kicked off its first Friendsville delivery Monday morning.
Nine older residents each received a hot meal, four frozen meals and a paper bag full of commodities, thanks to a group of pastors, deacons and laymen wanting to serve their community. Community Food Connection Of Blount County Inc., provided the commodities.
Lynnda Manville, client services manager of Blount County Meals on Wheels for the Blount County Community Action Agency, arrived at Friendsville United Methodist Church parking lot with the back of her pickup full and a warmer in the front seat, keeping the hot meal warm.
When Jerry Hayes, from Friendsville First Baptist Church, and Dan Crumley, Marble Hill Missionary Baptist Church, showed up at the church, Manville briefed them on the deliveries. Then the three of them, plus Friendsville First UMC’s pastor Betty Furches and Friendsville Mayor Ann Edmonds, loaded the meals and foodstuffs into the back of Crumley’s SUV.
Several hours later, Crumley said the deliveries went well, though they had trouble locating at least one rural address. He drove, and Hayes acted as co-pilot. For its maiden voyage, the round trip took about three hours.
“We got so many hugs, and tears were shed all around,” he said. “We asked them if they had any prayer requests and whether we could pray for them, and everyone said yes.”
Crumley said they had fun, were safe and now know where everyone lives, “so we are ready to go next Monday.”
Manville said she was excited about the prospect of serving Friendsville’s elderly population. Though the agency provided some assistance in Friendsville, Greenback and Townsend, she said she didn’t have the manpower to provide for every qualified person. Mannville said those who qualified did so on the basis of their age and ability to stand up to cook, not on their ability to pay.
“The seniors are really who built the communities,” she said. “Providing meals is a way of giving back to them.”
“This idea of working together with the churches will help us to tap into something that has not been done before, and service these people,” Manville said. “It was a good match.”
She added that Tim Russell, deacon of Marble Hill Missionary Baptist Church, expressed concern when he discovered several elderly people in his congregation needed food assistance. Manville said he told her that he had able-bodied people ready to help.
Pastors of nearly all the churches in Friendsville — representing seven in all — had started meeting together several years ago. Crumley said at one time they helped others in need while enjoying one another’s fellowship, no matter the denomination.
The team not only will deliver the Meals on Wheels food once a week, but will host an on-site meal once a month. The first one will be from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Monday, March 18, in Friendsville First UMC, 204 East College Ave., Friendsville.
The on-site meal is designed to provide a safe place for the senior population 60 years and older to interact with others their age. Crumley said he can help.
“If they cannot come, we will bring them to the food (site) and take them back,” he said.
Edmonds said she felt excited about Meals on Wheels in Friendsville.
“I think it is a wonderful thing for our community,” Edmonds said. “I had said I’d like to see Meals on Wheels initiated. Lo and behold, they are doing it and I think it is awesome.”
She intends to send a notice about the new program with water bills the city will send out soon.
Churches and representatives for Friendsville’s Meals on Wheels include John Russell and Calvin Tipton of Friendsville UMC; Russell and Crumley, Marble Hill Missionary Baptist Church; Pete Spiker and Hayes, Friendsville First Baptist Church; Dana Bentz, Bible Methodist Church; John Anderson, Union Grove UMC; Ruby Brogran, Good News Center; and George B. Henry, Friendsville Friends Church.