Every Monday morning, YMOW can count on a delivery of fresh fruits, vegetables and other treats from Food Gatherers. And not far behind is volunteer Sylvia Bethea, YMOW’s volunteer of the quarter.
Sylvia sorts the bulk delivery of produce into individual, manageable portions that are sent out with each client’s regular meals that same day.
“I’m always a helper,” said Sylvia, whose dedication to Meals on Wheels began decades before she became a member of the YMOW team. She worked part time for a Meals on Wheels program in Howell nearly 40 years ago.
After retiring from Eastern Michigan University about 10 years ago, Sylvia said she welcomed the chance to give back to the Ypsilanti community, where she has lived for 18 years. Along with YMOW, she also volunteers at the Ypsilanti Thrift Store and works with the Ladies Literary Society. Prior to COVID, Sylvia brought arts and crafts to patients at University of Michigan Hospital as and “art cart lady.” And several years ago, Sylvia’s home, including her whimsical Wonderland-themed laundry room, was featured on YMOW’s annual holiday home tour.
“I'm so glad for Sylvia's thoughtful work,” said YMOW Supportive Services Manager Chris Brown. He said knowing that Sylvia will be on hand makes YMOW’s busy Mondays easier on the entire YMOW team.
Chris said Sylvia is always willing to lend a hand with whatever needs to be done.
“I’m sensitive to peoples’ needs,” said Sylvia, whose own mother lived to be 102.
“It wasn’t without the help of her children,” said Sylvia. As a volunteer with YMOW, she hopes to make aging a little easier and more pleasant for someone else’s parent. Family, Sylvia said, doesn’t require a biological connection.
“My neighborhood is my family,” she said, and she plans to keep helping them for as long as she can.