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Volunteer Sought Coordinator Needed For Senior Meals
After more than five years coordinating the Senior Meal program in Escalon, Jan Shelton is stepping down from the volunteer post ... but needs someone to step in and take her place.

The meals are served up at the Escalon Community Center every Tuesday and Thursday for local senior citizens and Tuesdays also feature home delivery of meals to the elderly and shut-ins through the Meals on Wheels program. Though she enjoys the work, Shelton said other commitments are making it increasingly harder to fill the volunteer role.

And, she wasn't even looking to get involved when she first began.

"I came to check on the exercise program," she said, explaining that she wanted to get involved in the twice-weekly senior exercise program but ended up instead coordinating the meals.

"One of the ladies (at the exercise class) came up and asked me," Shelton said of coming on board as the meal program coordinator.

"I never did get into the exercise program," she added.

The work is not difficult, Shelton said, but does require the commitment to be there for a few hours each Thursday. Sandy Rigg oversees the Tuesday meals so the newcomer would be responsible for Thursdays and handling the administrative duties.

"There is a little paperwork," Shelton explained, "but if I can do it, anyone can. Mostly it's getting the seniors to sign in, calling Stockton (where the meals are delivered from) to give them the numbers, also let them know for the Meals on Wheels, how many they need."

Shelton said those receiving the Meals on Wheels get a full week of meals in one day. They arrive frozen but are easy to heat up later on and go along with the weekly menu served at various senior sites around San Joaquin County.

"They will get five meals for the week," Shelton said.

All are delivered at one time, making it more efficient for the volunteer delivery drivers.

At the Escalon Community Center, seniors gather in the room set aside especially for them during the remodeling at the center, and many attend the Tuesday-Thursday exercise hour before coming in for lunch. Cost for the hot, nutritious lunch is $2 for those 62 and older. Exercise runs from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., the meal is served about 11:30 a.m.

"It's $2 if they can make that, if not, whatever they can donate," Shelton said of the cost.

There is a table offering books and magazines to enjoy, while the occasional Bingo game is also on the schedule. They try to have a birthday cake once a month as well to mark all the birthdays for that particular month.

Setting the tables, making the coffee and getting the meal ready for serving doesn't take very long, said Shelton.

"I get here by about 9 and we're out of here by about 12:30," she said, noting that it's a short amount of time to do a lot of good for residents that need a place to come and socialize while eating a hot meal.

"They try to make it very nutritious," she added of the senior program meals. "I like the chow mein."

Reed, who has been coordinating on Tuesdays since retiring a couple of years ago, said she has found people most receptive to the unusual, such as a recent lunch that featured Polish sausage and sauerkraut.

"They loved it," she said.

As far as getting involved, Reed said she had retired and was looking for a way to fill some time.

"I wanted to help somewhere," she said. "I saw it (need for a senior meals volunteer) both in the newspaper and the church bulletin ... that told me I needed to do it."

She's hoping someone will be similarly inspired to sign on and fill Shelton's Thursday spot and help coordinate the program.

"It's not that much time and it benefits the people that come here so much," Rigg said.

Meals are designed to meet some nutritional requirements with entries from the basic food groups.

Robert Whitt, however, comes as much for the social aspect as the nutritional one.

"We're both in exercise, come over twice a week," he explained of himself and his wife. "It gets us out of the house, we started coming about a year ago."

He also praised both Shelton and Rigg for their efforts.

"The people that serve us are incredibly sociable, lovely people," he said. "They volunteer and they're cheerful about it, they do it with a smile.

"We're pretty fortunate to have this in Escalon."

Rigg said the program is there for senior citizens and she would like to see more of them taking part. More information about the volunteer position or the meal program can be obtained by contacting Shelton at 838-3245 or Rigg at 838-2770.

Shelton will serve as coordinator through the end of January.