The Wilsonville Community Center prides itself on being a fixture of the town, providing programming that enriches the lives of community members both old and young, and nowhere is the spirit of that mission more apparent than with Community Center's nutrition program.
The nutrition program is not new. In fact, program coordinator Evie Proctor believes it's been around in one form or another since 1979 when a group of concerned citizens got together at the old Odd Fellows meeting hall to start home delivery meals.
Up until 2008 the city had contracted with two meal delivery services — Loaves and Fishes Center as well as Bateman Senior Meals. Today, all meal planning and preparation is done in-house at the Community Center by a group of volunteers who dedicate their time to bringing fresh, hot meals to local seniors both in person at the Community Center four days per week, and at home through delivery service.
"All the menus are reviewed by a dietician from Clackamas County and is a balanced meal. Not only does the meal program offer good nutrition but socialization for other seniors. In particular the Home Delivered Meal program provides an essential service in addition to the meal by being our 'eyes and ears' in the community and making sure the seniors in the program are doing alright," Proctor said. "Sometimes the friendship they get from the compassionate drivers are even more important to the seniors than the meal. The program helps seniors stay in their homes longer so they can 'age in place' in the most comfortable of settings, their homes."
One of the ways, admittedly a small portion, that the Community Center helps to subsidize the nutrition program is through bakery sales of items donated from local stores like Safeway and Fred Meyer.
Local resident and volunteer J.H. Morris collects the donated items from stores, brings them to the Community Center and puts them up for grabs to anyone who wants them. It's not really a sale, more of a donation table. If someone wants a bag of bagels or a loaf of bread, maybe a box of cookies, the Community Center asks for just 50 cents per item. It only earns the Community Center about $200 a month, but anything helps when its going toward a cause like the nutrition program.
"Mondays and Fridays we have the bakery sales here at the Community Center, and then in the afternoon I take it over to (local senior communities) and to the Hispanic community out at Autumn Park or Rolling Hills food pantry," Morris said.
Morris likes helping learn the Community Center a little extra cash, but really it's about creating ties in the community and making sure food that otherwise would have been thrown out gets a second chance to help local families and seniors. It all ties into the Community Center's mission to enrich the lives of all Wilsonville's citizens.
Wilsoville Parks and Recreation Program Manager Brian Stevenson believes that the social aspect of the Community Center's nutrition program is truly one of its largest benefits to the community's seniors.
In December the program hosted a themed lunch celebrating the holiday season with a white elephant gift exchange and ugly sweater contest. It's one of several themed luncheons the program hosts throughout the year. That lunch saw a group of more than 60 local seniors show up to share a meal, sport their ugliest christmas regalia and visit with friends new and old.
Millie Robbins and Bob Bittle, two volunteers with the nutrition program's home delivery service, were selected to serve as judges for the ugly sweater contest. After some tough deliberation they selected six winners, one of whom was Edna Buddreius, who was sporting a holiday six-pack utility belt, christmas lights and a vintage M&M holiday sweater that would make most hipsters jealous.
For Bittle, a retired Coca Cola employee, volunteering with the Community Center's nutrition program has brought him great joy.
"I've been driving going on two years. Growing up I was taught you're supposed to give back, and now that I'm retired I have the time and am fortunate enough to be able to do it," Bittle said. "Being a driver for (the nutrition program) is probably one of the best things I've ever done. The joy you bring to people when you bring them lunch feels so good."
Bittle said anyone who has the time and is interested in giving back to the local community and its seniors should consider signing up to drive for the nutrition program. Anyone interested should fill out a volunteer application at the Community Center.