Gladwin Co. Commission On Aging Gifted Donation Of New Vans

“We have our own little fleet started that we can rely on.”

A generous donation to a Northern Michigan county’s Commission on Aging filled up their parking lot with more than just one set of wheels.

With a drop in volunteers and only one van to bring food to more than one-hundred seniors, the Gladwin County Commission on Aging needed help.

A philanthropist’s foundation stepped up to the plate, gifting them a new fleet to meet the need.

“I don’t even know how to begin to say thank you because it’s such a big thing,” says Anna McNeill, COA program coordinator.

The Gladwin County Meals on Wheels serves more than 200 meals a day, on average, to more than 100 seniors.

McNeill says bad luck started to slow that down.

“We had two vans originally for our Antler Arms routes and one of the vans got into an accident trying to avoid a couple of deer and when that van was totaled, R.W. Considine came in back in September of 2017 and was able to purchase and donated to us a transit connect van,” McNeill says.

The R.W. Considine Foundation didn’t stop with just donating one van, but gifted Meals on Wheels with two more vans to cover more ground.

“It’s very much, very much needed,” McNeill says. “We have quite a few routes that take our Meals on Wheels program, our home-delivered meals out to our home-bound seniors.”

It’s a gesture that helps in more ways than one.

“It’s more than just the meals. It really is,” McNeill says. “It’s a connection to the outside.”

Anna says these donations bring more than just expanded services across the county.

She says this adds the possibility of bringing on more people to fill in that driver’s seat.

“It’s hard to keep a steady volunteer base,” McNeill says. “With these vans and now the two Escapes, we’re going to be able to hire drivers so that we can have paid positions.”

“I couldn’t get out of bed for a week,” says Howard LaVere of Gladwin. “The people are nice, talk nice to you, everything.”

LaVere used to rely on Meals on Wheels before moving to Antler Arms.

This upgrade, he says, couldn’t be better news.

“Some people can’t get up and walk, can’t do nothing and need it,” LaVere says.

The first new van will start picking up miles next Monday, a speedometer Anna knows will start racking up.

“When I started writing down the starting miles, it was at 169 miles,” McNeill says. “There were no zeroes behind that, so it’s going to last us a really long time.”