Meals on Wheels volunteer delivers conversation, cheer


Barbara Hoffman gets ready to deliver a hot meal for one of her Meals on Wheels clients.

Darrell Woehler

Driving around Merritt Island, Barbara Hoffman probably knows every highway and byway making deliveries of “happy meals” to clients for more than 30 years.

Hoffman has been delivering Meals on Wheels, offering a bit of friendly cheer while seeing her clients get a hot meal at midday.

“I probably have done most of Merritt Island over the years and different rounds and I think I have seen all the routes,” Hoffman said. “I go on Wednesdays, leave the house at 10:20 a.m. and pick up the food in Cocoa where they cook meals around 10:30 a.m. I probably drive about 25 to 35 miles a time over the years driving the route. I run right about 35 miles a time now.”

And why does she continue volunteering?

“I just feel good about it. It makes me feel that I am helping a little bit. You can’t stay long with any of them, but I enjoy talking to them and at least I am somebody who is talking to them during the day.”

Through the years, clients have been thankful she was around.

“Whenever there is someone that doesn’t answer (the door) it is scary to go into the house and I wonder what I will find,” Hoffman said, since she makes the rounds unaccompanied. “But usually they have gone to the hospital or to the doctor’s office and didn’t notify us (Meals on Wheels). I had one call to 911. I knocked on the door and she didn’t answer and then (she) said she needed help. She had fallen in the bathroom in the middle of the night. I called 911. So that is one of the problems I dealt with.”

“We do have several people who have been driving for 30-plus years and that is the gold standard,” said Paula Schroeder, the communications manager for Aging Matters. “We have people who have literally been saved by drivers.”

Meals on Wheels has 660 active volunteers but are always in need of volunteers, Schroeder said. Anyone wishing to volunteer to drive or to apply for meals, should call 321-639-8770.

“I will do it as long as I can drive and as long as I can walk,” Hoffman said.