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The lunch-break volunteer

Published on Friday February 17, 2023

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, stay at home mandates meant that Centra Caregiver, Kathy Morris’ three teenagers were either spending their days in online classes or sitting around trying to figure out how to fill all their newfound free time. Realizing they needed something to do, Kathy signed them up for a weekly Meals on Wheels delivery route. When the fall semester commenced, all three of her kids were back at school, but Kathy couldn’t bear to give up the route, so she decided to take it over with the help of her friend, Emily Hargis. 

Working during her Tuesday lunch break from Centra, Kathy delivers around 15 meals to Meals on Wheels participants. Every week the route can vary depending on the current number of recipients on the route. In addition to delivering meals to each of the participants, she also takes time the time to chat with them and hear about their weeks. 

Every Meals on Wheels volunteer is trained to complete a simple well check as a part of their drop-off. If a meal recipient shares that they’re experiencing an issue with their home’s HVAC system or having trouble making a doctor’s appointment, the Meals on Wheels volunteer will refer their name to the Meals on Wheels staff. A staff member will then reach out to connect the recipient with the right social services assistance. 

One of Kathy’s favorite memories from her time as a Meals on Wheels volunteer was delivering a special birthday box (something that all participants receive on their birthday) and witnessing the pure joy and excitement on a participant’s face when she received the box. Another favorite memory comes from the special connection she built with one couple which led to her being invited, along with their friends and family, to their 50th wedding anniversary party. When asked why she would encourage others to volunteer with Meals on Wheels Kathy replied, “It’s such a valuable thing to help someone get their daily intake of nutritious foods. And it’s so fun!” She also went on to say, “People aren’t aware of how hard it is for others to have the energy and resources to prepare themselves a meal after being ill. It can be extremely taxing if someone has medical conditions and, good nutritious food can be hard to come by for someone who is homebound.” 

Similar to how she has invested in serving our community through Meals on Wheels, Kathy has also spent years serving our community through her work at Centra. An employee since 1994, Kathy currently works as a Physical Therapy Case Manager for Home Health where she serves the Boonsboro, Rivermont, Big Island and Evington Communities. As a case manager for Home Health, she enjoys working one on one with patients and making an impact on their home safety. Whether it’s providing them with a piece of equipment or sharing with them a way to change an unsafe practice at home, Kathy highlighted the importance of building trust with her patients. “You have to build trust so that people will listen…to improve health literacy you first have to have connection and engagement.” 

Kathy’s devotion to improving the health and quality of life for her patients was encompassed in her answer to the question, “What’s the most challenging part of your job?” which she explained is, “leaving a patient’s home and feeling that I haven’t done enough during a visit.” As she nears the milestone of 30 years at Centra, Kathy said some of her favorite memories from her time thus far have been participating in team building activities when she was on the Acute Care Team and the time she spent collaborating with physicians in the ICU to provide patient-focused interdisciplinary care on a daily basis.

When she’s not at work or delivering meals, Kathy tries to keep up with her three kids who are currently in the post-grad and college seasons of life. Asked what she can’t live without, Kathy replied, “my adorable husband,” who she’s been married to for 25 years. She also enjoys hiking in the mountains and the opportunity that nature provides to escape from the regular day to day. Kathy communicated one thing that she wants to achieve in life is good health for all her family and friends—a desire that has been demonstrated time and again through her work at Centra and service for Meals on Wheels!