Meals on Wheels: Brown and Betty, Harold and Jane, JoNetta Weaver and Verna

‘When did we see you a stranger?’

by Shelly Mayer

If you are thinking about serving alongside other Christians during #ForColumbia2017 on April 29th, consider getting personal.

Earlier this week, thanks to a partnership with Meals on Wheels, I was able to visit with several aging Columbians who still live independently, in their own homes…but can no longer keep up with the maintenance of those homes.

I spent time walking the property of an elderly man named Harold as we talked about ways in which volunteers might ease his workload this spring. In their home for the last 15 years, it has become harder and harder for him to keep up with the fast-growing brush that covers his fence each spring. Harold still likes to garden, but the work of maintaining their home is becoming more than he can do on his own; his wife Jane, bound to a wheelchair, is unable to help him. I suspect Harold will be busy helping volunteers in his yard on April 29; I’d love to be there just to see his face when he takes in everything that gets accomplished on that day.

Meals on Wheels: Brown and Betty, Harold and Jane, JoNetta Weaver and Verna

JoNetta Weaver, executive director of Meals on Wheels (pictured at bottom-left), introduced me this past week to several of her friends in Columbia, including Brown and Betty, Harold and Jane, and Verna (at right of frame with JoNetta).

Just around the corner, I met his 92-year-old neighbor, Verna, who lives on her own. Not feeling well that day, Verna still smiled and welcomed me into her home as we considered the kinds of work around her yard that would be a huge help to her. Verna has spent much of her life working in a support role at a church, serving others. This spring, #ForColumbia2017 volunteers will return the favor and work in Verna’s yard to rake leaves, spread mulch and – if they are lucky – spend some time visiting with this senior resident of Columbia.

In another area of town, Brown and Betty were thrilled to learn we could help them with yard work as well. This sweet couple, married since they were teenagers, has been in their home since 1972, but are struggling to keep up with the maintenance as they lose their ability to drive or, some days, just walk out into the yard. #ForColumbia2017 volunteers will help Brown clear his fence row, haul off large items of trash, and delight Betty by planting Rose of Sharon along the back of her yard where she can see it from her kitchen.

Lastly, I met a spunky, lively woman in her forties who, as a result of a car accident years ago, is disabled, unable to work and now living in public housing. Bedridden and unable to be active, “Katie” cannot maintain her home. She has recently been moved into a newly-refurbished part of Columbia Housing Authority’s housing complex, but still has many boxes to unpack and shelves to organize. Katie is excited to meet volunteers willing to spend a morning with her, unpacking her things and helping her make her living space just a little more “homey.”

These are just a few examples of the kinds of people you might spend time with on April 29. ForColumbia is working with several non-profit organizations to identify others in our city who could really benefit from your help. One of the great blessings we enjoy as Christians is the eager willingness of God to “step into our stories,” and now here we have a great opportunity to live that out with others.

Volunteer sign-ups for #ForColumbia2017 will begin in mid-March. Consider giving a day to selflessly serve others; you might even be able to meet some pretty amazing seniors right here in Columbia, Mo.

Matthew 25:34-40 (ESV)
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'”