Meet a winner of the 2023 Marcus Lampros Volunteer Awards, given to eight outstanding volunteers who exemplify our values: Integrity, Respect, Inclusion, Creativity, Commitment, and Teamwork.
Linda Johnson retired from her job in the Fred Meyer corporate office in 2002, but she’s plenty busy. When she’s not running after her six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, she’s running half-marathons — she’s finished 98 of them. “I love the medals,” said Linda, who has raced in Paris, Portland, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and even Little Rock, Arkansas. “It was the biggest medal any race had ever given.”
Since she started volunteering at Meals on Wheels People in 2009, first in La Center, Washington, and now at the Ridgefield Center at Church of the Nazarene in Ridgefield, Washington, she’s become even more appreciative of the fullness of her schedule.
“A lot of the older adults we serve — I’m 73 now, but I know I’m going to be there — don’t have any outlets,” said Linda, who works in the kitchen and helps serve congregate lunch during her volunteer shifts on Tuesdays and Thursdays. “They really look forward to coming in and chitchatting with us. We try to make it fun for them when they come in.”
She loves getting to know the diners and joking around with them, adorning the space with seasonal and holiday decorations, and hosting drawings for donated items.
“Linda supports MOWP in the kitchen and beyond,” wrote Luepke Center Home Delivery Coordinator Meredith Kruger in her nomination for Linda. “She picks up a donation of food to bring and helps us cook, serve, and wash dishes two days per week. She is the first person to show up and is the last person to leave each day. She works hard to make sure donated food items are distributed equitably to clients and community members. She is a kind person who does everything in her power to serve others, whether it be helping the church keep its space clean and organized, setting up special holiday decorations, or creatively setting up snack tables out of donated items to improve the atmosphere for clients. Above all, Linda always has a positive attitude and truly cares about her fellow volunteers, clients, and community.”
One of Linda’s favorite memories is of a birthday celebration for a diner who turned 100 years old. The MOWP team planned a party and even got Willard Scott to give him a shout-out on TODAY. “I think we were more excited than he was,” Linda said with a laugh.
Linda knows the diners are grateful for MOWP — she’s received many thank-you cards over the years — but she said she’s just as grateful for their presence in her life. “It’s very rewarding.”
We need volunteers to provide critical support to the older adults we serve. Become a part of our volunteer family and help change a life, one meal and friendly connection at a time. Visit mowp.org/volunteer.