MASSENA - Now that snowbirds have headed for warmer climates for the winter, the Massena Meals on Wheels is in need of volunteer drivers for some of their routes.
Five routes are currently in need of drivers, according to Executive Director Jessica J. Fregoe, who said she has been handling some of the routes until replacement drivers can be found.
Most of our drivers are over the age of 60. A lot of them do travel, and Ive lost a couple of drivers due to illness. Theyve been so dedicated for so many years, she said.
One of the routes is on Wednesdays for Amherst Road, Middlebury Avenue, West Hatfield Street and South Main Street. That route is open through early April.
Another route, done on Thursdays, is the Bucktown Road, Trippany Road and Massena Center area.
A driver is also needed for a Friday route through March on Clarkson Avenue, Nightengale Avenue and Andrews Street.
Another Friday route driver is needed through April for Louisville Housing and the Town Line Road.
Ms. Fregoe said they also need a Friday driver every other week for Laurel Terrace, and will be looking in March for a one-month substitute for Mondays at Grasmere Terrace, Alvern Avenue and the Quality Inn.
She said the routes, with the exception of the Thursday deliveries, are temporary until their volunteer drivers return.
For the Thursday route, we had somebody retire. Thats a permanent one. The others are snowbird-related, she said.
Some volunteers have stepped up to take on other available routes, Ms. Fregoe said.
Some people are working three or four days a week. One gentleman is working five. I always say we have the best volunteers in the world, she said.
But those volunteers can only handle so many routes, necessitating the call for more volunteers to deliver meals to the 100 recipients. That number is likely to jump to 102 this week, according to the executive director.
She said that drivers typically take an hour to do the route, from the time they pick up the meals to the time they return to the Meals on Wheels building.
I say an hour to be comfortable. Thats coming here, picking up your coolers and then coming back, she said.
The Laurel Terrace route would take about a half an hour, she said.
Its definitely not a matter of too much time (to drive the route), Ms. Fregoe said.
Accommodations can be made for those who arent able to deliver every week, she said.
I have one who drives every other week at Laurel Terrace. I have one gentleman who will do every other Friday, she said.
Some volunteers also drive while a passenger makes the deliveries, or vice versa.
Some people just dont drive, Ms. Fregoe said. We have a gentleman who found a friend who does the walking while he does the driving.
The shortage of drivers isnt new, she said, noting it occurs every winter.
Actually, this winter I was fortunate because it seems like everybody left later this year. Last year it was November-ish. This year it was January, and its been a tough time, she said.
For more information or to volunteer, call 769-5083.