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Meal deliveries essential for elderly

Donna Sanchez delivers a meal to Margaret McKechnie of Masterton. PHOTO/JO McDONALD

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Donna Sanchez likes elderly folk so much she answered the call to deliver essential ‘meals on wheels’ to Masterton homes.

Sanchez is a volunteer for the Red Cross in another sector but the call went out from Masterton manager Jo McDonald for help because during the covid-19 lockdown, from of her mainly over 70-year-old team of 62, she had only 12 available to deliver meals.

“The retired folk didn’t want to stop but the government has told them to stay home so I had to say ‘no’, but then I became terribly short of volunteers,” McDonald said.

McDonald has around 20 new volunteers to help during the virus crisis and said the situation had been a reminder to get a back-up list of younger volunteers. The new volunteers are mainly teachers, Masterton Medical Centre staff and friends.

Sanchez delivered a meal to 75-year-old Margaret McKechnie.

“I’m no longer able to cook a decent meal,” McKechnie said. “With the nerve damage in my fingers, arthritis and severed tendons on my shoulders, it’s no longer safe for me to handle things in the oven and heavy pots. I’m absolutely dependent on the meals brought to me.

“I’d probably be eating a lot of chips if I didn’t have the meals. I’d be more anaemic than ever. All elderly people need a nutritious diet for their bone health and brain. I know what I’m saying because I used to be a nurse.”

Sanchez says she enjoys offering not only a meal but a quick chat.

“Their faces just light up when they see me,” she said. “I find the old people so polite and friendly, grateful and softly spoken and it is a pleasure to help.”

Sanchez, 29, emigrated from the Philippines a year ago to be with her partner Arvin Bombita who is a nurse at Wairarapa Hospital. He has been trained to assist covid-19 coronavirus patients but has also stepped up for ‘meals on wheels’.

Sanchez is employed by Capital Precut Solutions Ltd but aims to organise a day a week she can continue to deliver meals.

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