Our Mission is Simple
Our mission is to deliver nutritious meals to the aged, convalescents, homebound and handicapped persons who are unable to shop or cook for themselves, regardless of race, color, creed, age or ability to pay.
Main Line Meals on Wheels History
Main Line Meals on Wheels was founded in 1972, the result of much time and effort of our founder, Elaine Belmonte. She recruited and organized an initial committee that included the incorporators: Barbara Bailey, Barbara Best, Mary Giersch and Libby Stevens. They along with Nancy Burns and Ada Mutch, served as coordinators at each of the several churches involved in the formation of the program. Committed to meeting the needs of the homebound in our community, they found food providers, generated financial support, worked through the legal requirements and perhaps most importantly, recruited many, loyal volunteers.
The first day of operation, meals were delivered to twenty-four patrons. Now we deliver to one hundred and twenty-four. We now have two operations, one at Bryn Mawr Hospital. The other started at Devon Manor, moved to Paoli Hospital, back to Devon Manor, and now, since Devon Manor closed in 2016, we have partnered with Surrey Services for Seniors. Some 3.2 million meals later, MLMOW continues to work to meet those same and ever increasing needs, inspired by those and the many individuals following them, who contributed to the success of our program, be it through volunteering to pack and deliver, to serve in a leadership capacity and/or to provide financial support.
Over 45 years in addition to the initial committee, there have been many whose tireless work and devotion were key, but a few individuals stand out: Marie O’Neill was the first Executive Director. Her devotion to the cause and her attention to detail carried the program through its first 25 years. Maureen Eisele served as coordinator at Bryn Mawr for 25 years, retiring in 2015. She worked hard, but her personal concern for each of the people we served is what inspires those who follow.
Patricia Sierzant, our current Executive Director has been at the job since 2003. She managed the move from Paoli Hospital to Devon Manor in 2005 and the move from Devon Manor to Surrey Services in 2016, both with no interruption to the delivery of meals. Having been born and raised in Minnesota, she marveled when she moved to Pennsylvania and saw how panic spread when a few snowflakes appeared.
Uncomfortable with cancelled deliveries because of weather, she implemented two solutions: First, all patrons now receive a snow pack in December. It contains canned goods and other non-perishable food items. Second, if there is enough warning of bad weather, she works with the food providers to deliver additional meals the day before a storm.
Of course there would be no program without our volunteers. The list of loyal, long-serving volunteers goes on and on and continues to grow. It is impossible to single out standouts as there are so many. The staff, thankful for the loyal volunteers who faithfully appear week after week, are equally grateful for those who can be called upon at the last minute when problems arise.
In 2006 we started presenting the Charlie Cook Volunteer of the Year Award. Charlie served on the Board of Directors and as President before surrendering to cancer. He guided the program back to Devon Manor in 2005 when Paoli Hospital could no longer accommodate us. The Award honors his memory and recognizes the work of volunteers. Those selected over the years include:
2006 James P. Hopkinson
2007 Dot Wolff
2008 Helen Warner
2009 Ginny Schofield and Helen Tickner
2010 Elaine Belmonte and Barbara Best
2011 Joan Fouracre
2012 Stella Brady and Elizabeth Ivey
2013 Betty Austin
2014 Wild Winter Volunteers
2015 Erik Hendricks
2016 Brant Rudisill
2017 Lee Urias
Some feel that naming one volunteer each year overlooks too many, and that may be true. Each year we have an annual luncheon to thank all our volunteers and remind them of how important they are to what we do. But of course it all comes down to the people we serve. They come from varied backgrounds and all walks of life. Some live in modest apartments or homes and some live in Main Line mansions. Some are reserved, some very talkative. Over the years we have had the opportunity to serve many veterans with extensive experience in the various branches of Military service. We delivered to a former NBA basketball player, former teachers, doctors, professors, a concert pianist, the list goes on and on. They all were homebound, needed meals, and we delivered.