On Thursday, Orange City Council threw a morning tea to thank the city’s army of selfless volunteers for their service.
Those volunteers had put in various amounts of time at their respective organisations: some had been there a year or two, some had been there longer.
However, two faces in the crowd were into their sixth decade of volunteering with Meals on Wheels in Orange, having been at the very first meeting in 1967 at the Canobolas Hotel.
Betty McDonald and Edna Sharp have been part of Meals on Wheels in Orange for its entire operation, and say the demand for the program now is as strong as it ever was.
It’s a very worthwhile organisation, and you make nice friends when you deliver meals.Betty McDonald
“The need was there in 1967 … people still need the help and the contact with somebody [now] too, that’s very important,” Mrs McDonald said.
“The need was taking meals to people who weren’t eating properly, especially on their own.”
Originally operating out of Orange Base Hospital and Bloomfield, the pair said the operation ran hot meals around Orange for years before council took over the program and began providing frozen meals.
Mrs McDonald explained the organisation was set up by church communities around Orange following a study which showed many people – especially the elderly – weren’t cooking for themselves.
“It’s a very worthwhile organisation, and you make nice friends when you deliver meals. The people are all very appreciative of the meals,” she said.
Mrs Sharp agreed, saying meeting and helping people, and knowing those they were helping would be thankful for the meal was what kept her going over five decades of volunteering.
She also said she thought the need for the program was increasing, although added there were now more organisations stepping into the field to provide help for those in need than there were in the 1960s.
Did they expect it would still be running five decades later?
“Well we didn’t really have any idea,” Mrs Sharp said.
“It’s really flourished,” Mrs McDonald agreed before adding the pair have no plans to stop volunteering any time soon.
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