The Ever-Young Rose
The first day of school our professor introduced himself and challenged us to get to know someone we didn’t already know. Suddenly a gentle hand touched my shoulder, and I turned around to see a little old lady beaming up at me with a smile that lit up her entire being.

“Hi handsome,” she said, “my name is Rose. May this eighty-seven year old give you a hug?”

I laughed and enthusiastically responded, “Of course you may!” and she gave me a giant squeeze.

“Why are you in college at such a young, innocent age?” I asked.

She smilingly replied, “I’m here to meet a rich husband, to get married, to have a couple of children, and then to retire and travel.”

“Are you serious?” I asked.

Then, dropping the smile, she responded, “No, actually I always dreamed of having a college education and now I’m getting one!”

After class we walked to the student union building and shared chocolate milkshake. Rose and I became instant friends. Over the course of the year, Rose became a campus icon and she easily made friends wherever she went. At the end of the semester we invited Rose to speak at our football banquet.

After being introduced she stepped up to the podium. As she began to deliver her speech, she dropped her notes on the floor. Frustrated and a little embarrassed she leaned into the microphone and simply said, “I’m so jittery. I will never get my notes back in order so let me just tell you what I know.”

Then Rose cleared her throat and began . . .

“We do not stop playing because we are old; we grow old because we stop playing. The only secret to staying young, being happy, and achieving success is that you have to laugh and find humor every day. Then you have to have a dream. When you stop dreaming, you die.

There is a huge difference between growing older and growing up. If you are nineteen years old and lie in bed for one full year and you don’t do one productive thing, you will still turn twenty. I am eight-seven years old, and if I stay in bed for a year and never do anything, I will still turn eighty-eight. Which only goes to prove that anybody can grow older – for growing older does not take any talent or ability. But the grand purpose of life is to grow up by always finding opportunity in every change and in every challenge.

Then live in such a way that you will not look back one day and have regrets. We, the elderly, usually don’t regret the things that we did as much as we regret the things that we did not do.”

At the end of the year Rose finished her college degree. Then, just one week after graduation, she died peacefully in her sleep. Over two thousand college students attended her funeral in tribute to the wonderful woman who taught by example that it is never too late to be all that you can possibly be.

Christmas Dinners Project

Once again a huge thank you to all who responded to the annual Christmas Dinners For The Aged appeal. Please be assured that your kindness made a huge difference.

We have not yet received the final figures for the 2004 festive season, but we do know that they exceeded the 2003 figures. In 2003, no less than 303 functions were held throughout the country, and over 23,000 Senior Citizens were entertained.

There is no question that a wonderful time was had by all. Voluntary helpers prepared the meals, voluntary entertainers kept the spirits joyous and, wherever necessary, voluntary helpers assisted with transport. In most cases local dignitaries were invited to address the local group and to share in the meal and the fun.

After one of the functions one elderly lady was heard to remark – “The only trouble with Christmas is that it comes only once a year.”

Thanks to your support, over 23,000 Senior Citizens left their respective venues feeling that they really are loved and appreciated, and that their contribution to society really is valued.

As ever, many new friends were made. This, of course, is of utmost importance for friends are the failsafe remedy for loneliness – and loneliness is one of the most common afflictions affecting the elderly.

This year our Christmas Dinner appeal will be in the mail by the 12th of October – please budget accordingly and please do try and get your friends, family and associates to contribute.

Thank you for being a special friend to an “old friend.”

Definition of an Elder
In the light of the above, and by contrast, the following article is of particular interest. This article was posted by some wise old sage in the Wade-Lyn Nursing Home in Hurstville, Australia.

An elder is a person who is still growing, still a learner, still with potential and whose life continues to have within it promise for, and connection to the future.

An elder is still in pursuit of happiness, joy and pleasure, and her or his birthright to these remains intact.

Moreover, an elder is a person who deserves respect and honor and whose work it is to synthesize wisdom from long life experience and formulate this into a legacy for future generations.

History of Meals on Wheels
The Elderly Nutrition program dates back to World War 2 (1939). During the war, Great Britain was bombarded by German planes and many people lost their homes. The woman’s volunteer service for civil defense responded to this emergency by preparing and delivering meals to disadvantaged neighbors.

The canteens were soon dubbed “Meals on Wheels,” while the voluntary helpers, many of whom were high school students, were dubbed ‘Platter Angels.’ The delivery was so efficient that Senior Citizens would often jokingly “complain” to volunteers if the meal arrived a few minutes off schedule.

Many of those who benefited from the service, and who still benefit from the service today, were referred by neighbors, hospitals and social services. Besides those who had been rendered homeless, the service also proved to be a great boon to the elderly who lived alone and to those who had just been discharged from hospital.

What began as a single small program serving seven Senior Citizens has now grown into a world-wide organization with hundreds of branches throughout the United Kingdom, USA, Canada, Australia and South Africa. In most cases, the service provides home delivered and congregate meal programs that serve millions of elderly, disabled, and at-risk persons. The first Meals on Wheels branch in South Africa was opened in 1964 in East London. This branch still serves the entire East London area, and is currently managed by Mrs Dolly Du Plessis. In June this year the East London branch celebrates its 40th birthday.

It Pays To Advertise
Almost three years ago, the Meals on Wheels branch in Plumstead published an article in the local newspaper highlighting their desperate need for a new delivery vehicle. At that time the vehicles they were using were about 30 years old, not at all reliable, and anything but safe.

This particular newspaper article somehow made its way overseas where it was read by a Mr. Jones (not his real name). Mr. Jones’ heart was especially touched because his deceased mother had once benefited from the Meals on Wheels service – and so he decided to make a difference.

Mr. Jones then made contact with a friend in Cape Town and together they made a lump sum of money available to help the branch. Their sizeable donation was used to buy two new delivery vehicles, a very necessary cooler room, and a dish dryer.

Although the new vehicles are used for the deliveries, the old ones still come in useful and are used daily.

While the donors in this case choose to remain anonymous, the adage, “It pays to advertise,” has once again proven absolutely true.

Re-Positioning
Traditionally the Meals on Wheels program in South Africa has operated under the banner of “Meals on Wheels For The Aged.” In the past, this name was fitting in that Senior Citizens were the only ones who benefited from the service.

In more recent times, however, desperate cries for help have been coming in, in ever-increasing numbers from destitute families, from organizations that serve children and the homeless, from disaster stricken areas, and generally from disadvantaged people of all age groups and from all walks of life.

Not being able to ignore any cry for help, and despite our rigorous research into every application for help that we receive, we now find ourselves serving more and more meals to entire families, to young children, to teenagers, to adults, as well as to the elderly.

With this situation in mind, and in order not to misrepresent the service, the Meals on Wheels management committee have elected to change the global operating name from “Meals on Wheels For The Aged” to “Meals on Wheels Community Services.” Please see the masthead above.

While our various fund-raising efforts will still draw attention to specific needs and to specific age groups, we have had to accept the fact that Meals on Wheels is now better described as a “Community Service” – one that better serves the growing and changing needs of our struggling society.

We would be most grateful for any comment in this regard.

Profile of a “Platter Angel”
Mrs Sue Fernandes is currently the manager of the Benoni Meals on Wheels branch and Service center. Sue first started helping with meal deliveries in January 1979. In October of the same year she took over as leader of the branch.

In 1990 Sue was instrumental in getting the local Service Center started. This center has proven to be a wonderful blessing to hundreds of “old friends” in the community. Under Sue’s direction, the center now serves meals on Mondays to Fridays and it conducts many special programs and services for the aged. Some of the special programs that are held at the center include aerobics classes, song sessions by primary children and other musical programs, Valentines and Christmas Functions, and combined Mothers and Fathers Day Functions.

On Clinic Day, a nurse takes blood pressure and sugar level readings. On other occasions “a kind lady” offers her services in treating tired feet, painting toe nails, and removing hard calluses.

The public in and around Benoni are very familiar with the branch and are very generous in offering their support – either by way of donations or gifts, or by way of their voluntary services. Over the years Sue has developed a wonderful partnership with organizations such as Woolworths, The Red Cross Nursery School and the local dairy - all of whom have helped tremendously with regular food donations. Members of Rotary also provide a vital service by taking the elderly for trips to the nearby Flora Farm and to the Margaret Roberts Herb Farm.

A service center is best described as a “club-house” where Senior Citizens may congregate and meet new friends. So far at least three couples met at the center and later decided to marry.

Thanks to Sue’s tireless efforts and devotion, the branch has only become bigger, better and more successful. According to Sue, one of the essentials for success in running such a branch is to avoid debt. Sue enjoys doing the shopping for the center and loves talking to the people she meets every day. When Sue is hopping (taking the meals into the homes of the elderly) on delivery days, she always makes a point of stopping to chat to the elderly. According to Sue, the chatting is as important as the food.

Besides all else, if there is someone in need of medicine Sue fetches it, or if someone is having difficulty collecting their pension, Sue obliges. Whenever necessary, Sue also chauffeurs the elderly to the shops or to the doctor or the nearest clinic.

To Sue, this has been more than a job and, as such, she has found nothing that is too difficult for her to handle. Given that Sue has managed the branch for nearly 25 years, we must salute her for the wonderful spirit of caring that she has displayed and for the tireless work that she has done for others.

When I asked Sue what she thinks of her ‘job’ she simply smiled and said, ” I love it – it is simply a part of my life.” Everyone agrees – Sue has done her ‘job’ very well.

On behalf of all who have benefited from the Meals on Wheels Service and Service Center in Benoni, thank you Sue and God bless you. You have done your work as a “platter angel” just as angels themselves would have done it.

Towards Aging Gracefully
According to six of the most prominent health organizations in the United States, including the American Cancer Society and The American Heart Association, a diet that is rich in plant foods is one of the best gifts that you can give yourself. These six organizations have come together to issue the “Unified Dietary Guidelines” to help Americans to choose more healthful diets. A representative from the group noted that the most important message for Americans (and the world) is “to get most of their diet from plant foods.”

The seven guidelines are . . .
• Eat a variety of foods
• Choose most foods from plant sources
• Eat at least five servings of fruit and vegetables every day
• Eat at least six servings of whole grain foods every day
• Minimize the consumption of high fat foods, especially those from animals
• Choose low-fat, low cholesterol foods
• Limit the amount of simple sugars in the diet

Loma Linda Vegetarian Nutrition & Health Letter, Volume 2.8

The Garden Of Daily Living
For the garden of your daily living:

• Plant three rows of peas:
    - peas of mind,
    - peas of heart,
    - peas of soul

• Plant four rows of squash:
    - Squash gossip
    - Squash indifference
    - Squash grumbling
    - Squash selfishness

• Plant four rows of lettuce:
    - Lettuce be faithful
    - Lettuce be kind
    - Lettuce be patient
    - Lettuce really love one another

• No garden is without turnips:
    - Turnip for meetings
    - Turnip to help one another

• To conclude our garden we must have thyme:
    - Thyme for each other
    - Thyme for family
    - Thyme for friends

Then, having tended the plants in your garden, always water freely with patience and cultivate with love. Care for your daily garden and you will reap much fruit – for it is a rule of life that you reap what you sow.

Meals on Wheels For The Aged
National Public Relations Office
PO Box 700, MEYERTON
SOUTH AFRICA, 1960
Life support: 086 00 00 700
Fax: 086 76 75 019
www.mowglobal.org