The Grand River Multipurpose Center, seeks volunteers, has a lot to offer.

Fellowship, friendships, fun and food is what it is all about at the Grand River Multipurpose Center.

The center, which is open Monday-Friday and serves lunch from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m., daily is not only a place for everyone in the community to experience the variety of activities and nutritious lunches, it is also about the friendships and fellowship that come along with it.

“The food is good,” said Dale Arnold. “But it is not so much just about that. It is the fellowship - the social time.”

Nearly 150 people attend lunches, each day, throughout the week, Teresa Sykes, resource coordinator for the multipurpose center said. Fridays are typically the busiest.

Meals are planned and prepared by several full-time staff members and are assisted by a variety of volunteers. Sykes said the meal preparation is vital and careful care is made ensuring a well-balanced nutritious meal is served.

In addition to the single-trip buffet style meal that is prepared for those dining at the center, more than 100 home-delivered meals are also prepared daily.

After the meal is made, carefully packaged and placed in hot and cold coolers, volunteer drivers load their vehicles and head out, delivering the meals to those who are unable to make it to the center.

For more years than she can count Judi Shaffer has been delivering meals for the center. While Shaffer knows the nutritional importance and value of each of the meals she delivers, she said it is about so much more than that.

“For some of these people, we are the only people who they talk to,” she said. “The only ones who check on them. That is why I make sure I always ask them how they are doing.”

Shaffer’s husband, Butch, occasionally goes on her routes with her, he says the program, helps those that many times cannot get out of the house themselves.

“The people who get the meals cannot get out of the house, or have a really hard time making a meal,” he said. “Some have no family to come help them.”

Judi added, “It is something that I enjoy doing, I think other people would like it too. Sometimes people smile when they see you come to the door, or they cry because they are happy to see you too.”

Many of the clients along Judi’s route wait for her to arrive and enjoy their brief talks with her. “They learn who you are and you learn who they are,” she said. “It really means a lot.”

While there are certain qualifications for those on the home delivered meals program, Sykes said the process to get approved isn’t a long one.

“We just go in, talk to them, ask a few questions and can have them signed up pretty quickly,” she said. “They do need to be at least semi-homebound, or we want them to come in and get the socialization at the center.”

Some of those who receive home delivered meals are given more than just lunch. “We have some clients who get two meals some days, and then a little more to help them through the weekend,” she said. Those on the meals program are also given three shelf stable meals in late summer, to ensure they have food should the weather turn bad and volunteers not be able to make it to their homes. Sykes said after the bad roads this winter, the center has already restocked clients with shelf stable meals.

When the center is closed on holidays, Sykes said additional food is sent for clients who get home delivered meals, when the center is going to be closed, like it will be on President’s Day, Feb. 18.

While Shaffer enjoys driving her route she said there is always the need for volunteers. “We need more volunteers to make sure everyone gets their meals delivered.”

Arnold has been delivering meals for about five years he said. His route, is much like Shaffer’s with as many as 15 stops. It usually takes him about 90 minutes to complete his route.

Sykes added that volunteers are vital to keeping the entire center running.

Weekly exercise classes, the onsite library, reception desk, certain aspects of the kitchen and the meal delivery program are all volunteer run, under the supervision of staff.

Currently, there are about 50 volunteers performing a variety of roles within the center. Sometimes, volunteers from other groups and organizations also donate their time and talents, just as The Sasseen’s did during a monthly lunch-time musical performance.

While the volunteers and the seven full-time staff members are the driving force behind the center, so is the community. The center is run largely off of donations and grants and other funding sources, like the Northwest Area Agency on Aging, which reimburses the center for a portion of every meal that anyone over 60 years of age eats at the center.

“We are very thankful for the support of the community,” Sykes said. “While we also get other grants and funding we are definitely in need of consistent financial donors.”

The center is already near capacity, we are continually adding clients and will look for ways to keep up with our increasing numbers. The Center served 46,539 meals during 2018. Sykes noted they are only able to cook meals for about 250 people, and when combining meal delivery and those who eat at the center, many days they are near capacity.

Anyone is welcome to come and eat and join in activities. It is suggested that anyone over 60 years of age who eats donate $4, A meal is $6.75 for anyone 60 and younger; children under the age of 12 are $1.50. Carryout meals are $6.75.

Menus and activities calendars can be found on the Grand River Multipurpose Center's Facebook page, or weekly in the Constitution-Tribune on Friday.