Over the years, Meals on Wheels has been involved in many special deliveries, and I would like to share a few of our milestone deliveries with you all. Please keep in mind no matter how much lead time we have, the events we promote must be organized & coordinated as thoroughly as possible behind the scenes; and even with the best laid plans, surprises do happen and then we can only stand there and smile.
Here is a little insight into our world. All media events start with carefully choosing our client and that is tough since most of them are quite engaging in conversation. We involve our client staff, paid drivers and volunteers to help out. Most often we choose someone close to media to keep it easier for them to get involved. We make sure the addresses are checked out for ease of approach and then we start calling clients. We also have to focus on who will be delivering that day since we want to give our individual volunteers and corporations equal opportunity to media promotion. Our team often does a home visit so they can carefully lay out the plan to our clients, face to face. We call the day before because sometimes things have changed in our client’s life. We always try to have a back-up plan. And the day of, our team goes to the client’s house early and makes them feel comfortable about what is going to happen next. I believe we have it down to a science in order to have the best outcome.
But wait, this is when the fun begins. Because with all this prep, we are still completely at the mercy of an elderly person who has reached the stage in his or her life when they feel, rightfully so, that they can say whatever to whomever they want!
Let’s countdown my top 5 media surprises:
5. Mayor Ballard was delivering to a wonderful lady in her mid-nineties, Corine, who was totally enthralled with President Obama and had many tokens of her affection in the living room where the filming took place. But she was such a special person we did not want to pass this bipartisan opportunity up. The mayor stood among all of these mementos, even a “Michelle” doll, and commented, “It is clear who you voted for.”
4. There was Herbert, who was our 5 millionth meal delivery. We knew he had a “beef” about his particular street and the many pot holes that existed. So we prepared Mayor Peterson in advance and we asked Herbert not to bring it up on camera. Herbert, in his mid-nineties, politely waited for filming to end. But then, with our volunteers and special guests still there, Herbert asked loudly, “What about my street? When are you going to fix it?” The mayor didn’t miss a beat and replied, “I am going to look into this today.” Herbert was happy and totally proud of himself!
3. During a much orchestrated Mayor Peterson delivery, we were in the client’s house, being filmed by a local station and the Mayor made the mistake of asking the client about her food. The client quickly responded, “Some of it makes me gassy!” The mayor also quickly responded, “Oh I am so sorry to hear that.”
I looked to the cameraman and said, “Please don’t use that” and he didn’t.
2. As always we send out our top talking points in advance. But what I saw at the 6 millionth meal delivery was Governor Daniels masterfully and naturally speaking our talking points as though they were his own. He didn’t miss one. Our client Mary, who suffers from Alzheimer’s, was coached by her loving family and even had to gently be reminded who the governor was as he was walking in the door. At one point, as Governor Daniels started speaking, Mary started to interrupt him and then remembered her prior coaching and put her hand to her lips and said, “Keep your mouth shut Mum,” on which the governor responded. “Mary, people say that to me too all the time.” It was a very sweet and tender moment.
1. But my all time favorite memory is about our Tillie, who lived to be 107 years old. She had been chosen to be our 4 millionth meal delivery 3 years before. Tillie was amazing and just a delight. She easily became the media darling which lasted for weeks of press for Tillie and MOW. But on the day of the delivery, made by another special lady, Judy O’Bannon, her room was crowded with media; everybody was there in a tiny area. Tillie was proudly sitting in her favorite chair and she signaled me to bend down to her level. I promptly did and she whispered in my ear, “Barbara, 4 million meals, can you imagine doing the dishes?” It was our little joke which I have since shared every time I talk about this dear lady.
This was more excitement than Tillie had seen in all of her later years but she enjoyed the attention immensely. She revealed that she had lived in 2 centuries and her wish was to live to 3, and with typical class and grace, Tillie did!
So here we are with our next special delivery, the 7 millionth meal, approaching in 2 weeks and we have selected another special client, actually 2 since this is our first couple involved in a “millionth” milestone. Please learn more about these wonderful people here and imagine Tillie saying, “Barbara, 7 million meals, can you imagine doing the dishes?”
And now I am thrilled to introduce Virginia & Melvin.