Every other Thursday, Doug Kellis jumps in his blue Jeep and heads out to deliver prepared lunches to older adults who can’t make meals for themselves.
He’s one of 18 Micron team members in Boise who volunteer with the nonprofit Metro Meals on Wheels, which provides about 1,000 meals to residents 60 years or older in the Treasure Valley each day.
“I encourage everyone to volunteer,” said Kellis, an equipment engineer in the Mask Technology Center who has been part of the Micron Meals on Wheels team for five years. “I believe that is the way we keep our communities strong and connected. I feel that volunteering is one way to support those in need as well as provide fulfillment in my life and in the lives of others.”
Meals on Wheels has a national network of 2 million volunteers who serve virtually every community in the United States, according to the nonprofit’s website. And you can volunteer!
The coronavirus pandemic has made this service more critical than ever — as older adults are at high risk of serious illness and death if they get COVID-19.
Kathy Radford, a seven-year volunteer and the Micron Boise team’s scheduler, was concerned about volunteers having all the personal protective equipment they needed to keep themselves and meal recipients safe. She asked Micron’s COVID-19 Task Force for help.
She didn’t have to wait long for an answer.
“I literally had a response back within minutes,” said Radford, who is director of the pricing office for the Compute and Networking Business Unit (CNBU). “I thought, “That was easy! Maybe I should be asking for overall support for Metro volunteers.” The Micron COVID team had a response back within an hour saying they could get us 2,500 masks and about 100 small containers of hand sanitizer.”
Cheryl Johnson, the Boise spokeswoman for Meals on Wheels, said, “The generous donation from Micron was so critical, due to the nature of our work and exposure to a vulnerable population. As we have been adversely affected by the coronavirus, a donation like Micron’s is especially helpful and greatly appreciated.”
Precautionary measures have evolved during the pandemic. To help keep a safe distance, volunteers do no-contact deliveries: They put meals in a plastic grocery bag on doorknobs or doorsteps and then step back when the person comes to the door.
Radford said there’s been a Micron Meals on Wheels volunteer team in Boise since at least 2001, and possibly longer. They currently are responsible for delivering meals for two routes on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It typically takes about an hour and a half to two hours.
Some work in teams, others go solo. Most are delivering alone now due to the pandemic, Radford said. They pick up the prepared meals at an assisted living center. It’s packed in two coolers (one for hot items, the other for cold). A typical meal has protein, vegetables and rice/bread or pasta, and milk.
What draws people to this kind of community service? For some, it’s just an easy way to get involved, while others understand the benefits because they’ve had a family member receiving meals.
“For me personally, I really enjoy the elderly community,” Radford said. “Some are really talkative and have great stories to share. It’s a great way to check in with someone to make sure that they are doing ok; in some cases, Meals on Wheels volunteers are their only points of contact each day.”
The "Heart of Micron" story series shares human stories about Micron team members helping others and benefiting their communities.