8 volunteers were recognized for exemplifying the values of Meals on Wheels People
Volunteers are at the heart of all we do at Meals on Wheels People. We depend on over 400 volunteers every day to serve and deliver meals, provide a friendly visit, and offer safety checks to over 8,700 individuals each year. In honor of National Volunteer Week April 16-22, 2023, we’re celebrating the winners of the 2023 Marcus Lampros Volunteer Awards, given to eight outstanding volunteers who exemplify our values: Integrity, Respect, Inclusion, Creativity, Commitment, and Teamwork.
Marcus Lampros started delivering meals as a MOWP volunteer in 1987. “The main reason why I drive is so that these people can stay in their homes and enjoy their freedom,” he said. Over the years, Marcus has helped save a woman’s life, testified on behalf of Meals on Wheels People before the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging in a hearing on seniors hunger in America, and served two stints on the board, from 2000 to 2006 and from 2010 to present. And Marcus, president of Lampros Properties, still delivers meals.
The Marcus Lampros Volunteer Awards were created and funded by Marcus’ friend Peter Northrup. President of the Northrup Corp. insurance company, Peter has spent the past 20 years listening to Marcus talk about Meals on Wheels People. In 2022, he came in for a tour of the Central Kitchen. “I was more than impressed,” Peter said. He wanted to do something to both honor Marcus’ commitment to MOWP as well as to recognize and reward the people who volunteer their time.
“Marcus is a great person and does a lot for the community,” Peter said. “My belief is that we shouldn’t wait until someone has left us to honor them. While sending a check in memory is thoughtful, it’s even better to have the opportunity to honor someone in advance. Let us show appreciation and give recognition while we can.”
Meet eight volunteers who helps us make sure that the people who took care of us aren’t left behind, forgotten, or hungry and instead are able to live out the independent lives they deserve and feel nourished through the kind of life-giving connections that help them thrive.
Martha Han always wanted to be an artist. She studied applied arts in college, but then she got married, had three children, and worked as a special education teacher in Portland elementary schools. When she retired in 2006, she finally had the time to pursue her passion. She enrolled in a watercolor class at East Portland Community Center and started painting.
For about a year, Martha watched people funnel in and out of the Meals on Wheels People Cherry Blossom Center, also located at the community center. “I decided to investigate,” she said.
Susie McGee was looking forward to retirement. She’d spent 20 years as a mortgage loan processor. But after six months, “I needed something to do,” she said.
Her daughter had recently volunteered with Meals on Wheels People in the kitchen at the Luepke Senior Center in Vancouver, Washington, and told Susie it would be a good fit for her. “I love to cook, but when you live alone, you don’t cook a whole lot,” said Susie, whose husband, Fred, died in 2014.
Susie’s first day at Luepke was one she’ll never forget.
Tom Christiansen started volunteering at Meals on Wheels People in 2016 and has since logged close to 1,500 hours. “Tom doesn’t just deliver meals,” wrote Luepke Center Program Manager Debra Bartnik in her nomination for Tom. “He helps wash dishes during our congregate service and picks up our food bank orders and weekly bread donations. Tom loves to see his regulars and respects everyone that he encounters. Tom is a great role model in the kitchen when student volunteers come through to learn new skills.”
Dewayne Smith has lived in northeast Portland for over three decades. For many of those years, he commuted out of the neighborhood: He spent over 20 years as a teacher and student supervisor with Beaverton School District and 17 years teaching educating courses at Pacific University in Forest Grove. After he retired, he kept getting calls to speak and teach, but he wanted to do something different — and this time, in his neighborhood.
Dewayne started volunteering in the kitchen at the Martin Luther King Jr. Center located at the Multnomah County Walnut Park Complex in 2017. Since he’s logged over 3,537 hours helping out in the kitchen.
Peggy Kerl likes to talk. It’s what made her successful in her 30-year career as a sales manager for a national food company, and it’s what makes her an outstanding volunteer at the Meals on Wheels People Cherry Blossom Center located at the East Portland Community Center.
“I’m used to talking to people I don’t know,” Peggy said. “So when I get new clients, I say: ‘Hi, I’m Peggy. I’m going to be here every Monday, so you can look forward to seeing me — or not. I’ll be here, though. You can count on it.”
Peggy has spent over 1,300 hours volunteering for MOWP over the past 10 years.
Kathy Hughes knows she has to pick her battles. For her, it’s hunger. “I want to help to make sure no senior goes hungry,” she said.
For years, Kathy worked as a labor organizer for health care workers as well as in home care. Once she retired, she wanted to continue making a difference in people’s lives. She knew about Meals on Wheels People because her housemate, who was homebound, relied on the meal delivery. So, in 2018, Kathy started volunteering as a greeter at Ambleside at the Gresham Senior Center close to where she lived at the time.
During the pandemic, Kathy moved to downtown Portland and started volunteering at the Elm Court Center, too. Now she spends two hours on the bus each Tuesday and Thursday getting to and from Gresham for her shifts as a greeter. On Mondays and Wednesdays, she stays downtown to check in volunteers at Elm Court and provide meals to clients who come to pick up lunch.
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.
Michael Inman started volunteering for Meals on Wheels People in 2013. “He is always helping us out at the last minute,” wrote Ambleside Home Delivery Coordinator Shannon Roberts in her nomination for Michael. “And he is so, so kind to everyone and willing to do anything to help anyone out. He is a great asset to our center. We are so lucky to have him.”
You Can Make a Difference, Too
We need volunteers to provide critical support to the older adults we serve. Get involved as a meal delivery driver or volunteer from home through our Friendly Chats program. Become a part of our volunteer family and help change a life, one meal and friendly connection at a time.