50 Years of Service: HPUMC Helps Feed Neighbors with Meals on Wheels

June 21, 2023 by Analise Narine

Learn how you can be a volunteer with Meals on Wheels here or reach out to Jan McLendon, HPUMC Lay Leader Liaison to Meals on Wheels, at janmcclendon@sbcglobal.net.

This year, Highland Park United Methodist Church is celebrating 50 years of Meals on Wheels under the management of the Visiting Nurse Association of Texas. HPUMC began delivering meals in 1973, and a few years later, two drivers, Mimi Fisher, and Holly Sudbury, became active members of the team. They have now been with Meals on Wheels for more than 40 years.

Mimi began driving routes for Meals on Wheels about a year after Holly, after volunteering with another group. The ladies became a dynamic duo, delivering meals to those in need on their Dallas routes. About 10 years later, another driver—Marty Curtis—joined, and the dynamic duo became a trio.

Throughout the years, Mimi and Holly have volunteered with other groups as well as with VNA Meals on Wheels, often together. But Meals on Wheels has been their mainstay, one they said to have enjoyed for decades.

“You raise money, and you put on events, and all that is wonderful, but sometimes you don't really know the outcome of the efforts that you've put in versus with Meals on Wheels,” Mimi said. “It's immediate—we pick up the food, and we feed people who need it. That's always been very satisfying to us.”

Mimi, Holly, and Marty didn’t halt their work with Meals on Wheels during the pandemic. They made wellness check phone calls when volunteers were not physically delivering, calling three times a week to check on clients.

“It was just good to connect with them,” Mimi said. “It’s a very necessary thing to do. And it wasn't even necessarily our route. We were just calling people, anywhere in Dallas, whatever routes needed to be called that day.”

Even now, post-pandemic, Mimi and Holly find ways to check in on those on their route beyond just delivering meals.

“I absolutely cannot imagine not having enough to eat,” Holly said. “Our clients are sometimes waiting at the door, knowing this might be the only meal they get through the day. It really keeps you going.”

They have also been able to let the organization know if a person who is usually home at that time isn’t there, if they have an issue, or if something happens to them.

“Often, we're the only person they see that day,” Holly said. “One time, when we were delivering a meal, the man had fallen, and the wife was very upset, so we called an ambulance and stayed with them until the ambulance came.”

The trio rarely miss a delivery, and they make sure those are covered by one of the others in their absence. Meals on Wheels lay leader Jan McLendon also makes sure to help those in need throughout any circumstance.

“Jan is wonderful,” Mimi said. “She's incredible, and she's managed it for so long. If people can't drive a route, she drives it, or her husband drives it. They deserve most of the credit.”

However, Mimi and Holly are now worried that there are not enough people to deliver meals to those in need daily, as they have recently received emails about open routes that need drivers.

“I would highly recommend it to anybody,” Mimi said. “It helps the people, but it helps us even more—we feel good about doing something, and they're so grateful. You can do it with a friend, then go to lunch afterward like we do.”

Mimi, Holly, and Marty know the importance of volunteering, as they have made an impact with Meals on Wheels for over four decades with HPUMC and stayed committed even during difficult times.

“The people know that we're coming from the church, or most of them do,” Holly said. “They come to the door, generally smiling, and they say, ‘God bless you,’ and we know we're doing something good. We are going to continue it because it's very important, and we love doing it,” Mimi said. “I think it's one of the church's best missions.”