Elder Care of Dickinson provides meals for seniors in nearly two dozen areas across southwest North Dakota and has been doing so for years.
However, volunteers and paid staff are stretched thin — and they are asking for your help.
In recent years, Elder Care has been short on staff to help them deliver meals to senior citizens five days a week.
Erin Humphrey, Assistant Executive Director of Elder Care, said, “Over the years, the number of volunteers have kind of declined so it’s harder to find them. So we’re just hoping to reach out to anybody who’s willing to volunteer.”
Elder Care currently has three drivers and is looking for more, with both volunteer and paid staff positions open.
“It’s just about an hour, a little over an hour a day,” said Humphrey.
In years past, there were sites set up specifically for the senior citizens to share a meal with others, and this was very popular, however:
“We don’t do any congregate sites, and I think a lot of the people miss that. It’s where the community, they get together, they are able to visit,” said volunteer Sandra Day.
Since the pandemic, Elder Care has shifted their meals program to an at-home delivery only, where the volunteers pick up their meals at the student center at Dickinson State University.
Volunteers like Day take their own vehicles and deliver the meals across the area, brightening the day for those who may not see anyone else and may not have another way of getting a meal.
COVID has caused a large increase in the demand for meals to be delivered in the area.
Humphrey said, “Our meal numbers have increased tremendously. I think we were doing roughly over 50,000 a year back before COVID. And now we’re doing closer to about 70,000 a year.”
Organizations around the area have stepped up to fill the role for the time being — an example being the Dickinson Police Department.
Several officers donate their time to live up to their motto of protecting and “serving.”
Anyone with a vehicle that has an hour or so in their day can volunteer to help.
“Our mission is just to get as many people to feed just around town, and helping out. And I like to do it because it’s a good thing,” said Day.
In this season of giving, Elder Care is asking to give just a little bit more to our citizens who need it the most.
The program is donation-based, however, there is a suggested contribution of $5 per meal.
Elder Care is asking for those interested to volunteer to call them directly at 701-483-1818.