Throughout the year, they work tirelessly behind the scenes, preparing and delivering meals to the community's elderly and homebound residents.
However, on this one day, volunteers for the Greater Brandon Meals on Wheels step into the limelight and have lunch served to them.
More than 200 Meals on Wheels volunteers from 18 churches gathered April 18 to salute their own during the annual spring luncheon at Bell Shoals Baptist Church.
During the annual luncheon, volunteers are recognized for their work within the organization and one volunteer is singled out as the Volunteer of the Year.
Serving the Brandon community since 1976, the Greater Brandon Meals on Wheels provides nourishing noon-time meals prepared and delivered to homebound neighbors by volunteers from 18 participating churches Monday through Friday.
The program is funded by client contributions along with donations from the member churches and the community. The organization receives no government funding.
Clients are referred through churches, family members, physicians, neighbors and friends, and are screened to verify need.
Each spring, the volunteer gather to recognize those who have worked with Meals on Wheels for a number of years starting with a five-year pin and including 10-, 15-, 20-, 25-, 30- and 35-year certificates. This year, Jean Ippolito of First United Methodist Church of Seffner presented these awards.
Earlene Combs then recognized four volunteers for their outstanding work with certificates of appreciation.
Those awards went to:
Mary Hink of St. Andrew's United Methodist Church who was recognized for her continued work as a substitute driver and her work in screening applicants for the program.
Jenneil Patrick of First United Methodist Church of Seffner who determines the routes each week for the drivers as well as driving one of those routes. She also creates menus and shops for the food.
Pete Green of First Baptist Church of Dover, husband of area coordinator Melody Green, who has helped his wife develop computer-based records of all clients receiving meals as well as assigning each new client to five churches. Since retiring, Green has prepared food, served as a substitute driver and has ensured that clients receive a balloon and card on their birthdays.
The coveted Volunteer of the Year went to Elaine Christopher, who became a Meals on Wheels volunteer driver at First United Methodist Church of Brandon 36 years ago.
Today she is in charge of purchasing food, creating tasty recipes, recruiting cooks and doing much of the food preparation as well as serving the portions for the drivers on Fridays. As the numbers of clients have increased, Christopher has been able to increase the amount of food needed to serve as many as 110 people each Friday.
Meals on Wheels is currently searching for more churches interested in joining the program. For more information, contact Jim McNeil, president of Greater Brandon Meals on Wheels, at First Presbyterian Church of Brandon, 813-689-4597.