Extra batteries are just one way honored volunteer serves more than a meal
She’s been called Ash, Ashercat and Ashleigh O. But it wasn’t until she became a YMOW volunteer that Ashleigh Oliveira started answering to the nickname “My Little Chocolate Chip.”
“I have no idea where that came from,” Ashleigh said, but each Wednesday and Thursday when she approaches Paul’s home with his meals for the day, she can look forward to his affectionate greeting.
Ashleigh began volunteering with Ypsilanti Meals on Wheels in early summer 2018. In the year since delivering that first meal, she’s developed relationships and a deep understanding of those she serves.
As she works toward her master’s degree in dietetics, she’s thinking of focusing her career on meeting the nutritional needs of older adults.
“I had never really spent time with older adults before,” said Ashleigh, who has quickly come to understand the needs of an aging population.
Of course, every need can’t be met with a meal. Ashleigh takes time with each person on her route to find out what she can do to help that day. Sometimes, it’s putting something in a cabinet for Hazel or reaching something from a shelf for Gladys. Not infrequently, she’s called upon to stop a chirping smoke alarm.
“I carry extra batteries in my car,” she said.
Most of the time, all someone needs is a bit of friendly conversation.
“Besides the food that they, of course, need, a friendly face makes a big difference in their day,” Ashleigh said.
Ashleigh said she’s tried volunteering before, but this time, it’s turned into a passion.
“I look forward to it every week. My time at YMOW has helped me just as much as it’s helped them,” she said.
YMOW and the people we serve could use more people like Ashleigh – people who have a couple of hours a week to spend delivering a meal and smile.
For more information about volunteering with YMOW, contact Rolanda@ymow.org.