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Home delivery with heart

Cathie Rydall delivers dinners, undaunted by fires, floods, or quakes

Posted: May 26, 2008 12:53 a.m.
Updated: July 27, 2008 5:02 a.m.

Cathie Rydall has been a Home-Delivered Meal Driver for the Senior Center for 19 years.

 
The road is impassable, wiped out by a devastating flood. Studying her crumpled map and the terrain surrounding her, achieving the mission seems hopeless. She traverses a stream, hopping from rock to rock until finally reaching her destination. With rescue package in hand, she leaps upon the wall and calls to the recipient.

The sky is ashen gray, and visibility is low. Once again, our protagonist scouts the backways and navigates through a disaster area.

Just days prior, a flaming inferno ravaged through structures and pristine greenery here. The beneficiary is standing in his driveway, anxiously awaiting her arrival, but she is shocked to see that there is something missing - the front of his house!

For 19 years, Cathie Rydall has been a home-delivered meal driver for the SCV Senior Center. Undaunted by floods, fires and earthquakes (not to mention rattlesnakes on a porch and geese chasing her down a pathway), Rydall has been a local "Indiana Jones" in her commitment to fulfill the Senior Center's mission that no homebound senior go hungry. Her ostensibly tame volunteer duties are, in reality, those of a true superhero.

Years ago Rydall's ill father received home-delivered meals, and often mentioned how wonderful it was to have this service. After her father passed away, she resolved to honor his memory by becoming a volunteer driver. She said that "It was important to my dad, so I'm doing this as payback. It makes me feel good to do something so needed and appreciated."

Rydall has a history with each of her clients and feels enriched by knowing them, and saddened by losing them. Each time she sets out on her route of home-bound seniors, she brings so much more than what may be their only hot meal for the day. She takes a personal interest in their well being and forms a bond of friendship, even remembering birthdays. Each of these home-bound friends is given a special treat and even biscuits are brought to their dogs.

The Home-Delivered Meal Program is a critical component of keeping seniors in their homes, assuring them independence and quality of life. "Most people don't know that each recipient is certified by a doctor as having acute needs and, without the program, they would likely be institutionalized," said Brad Berens, executive director of the SCV Senior Center.

However, the SCV Senior Center is in crisis. Tragically, as of May 15, the Home-Delivered Meal Program ran out of money for the year. Berens stated, "This year has been mightily impacted by the Age Wave and a great surge in need has been demonstrated. We are growing at three to five percent per week some weeks - our current challenge is that we do not receive enough funding according to needs."

This past year the Senior Center drivers delivered an astounding 77,412 meals, a feat which could not have been accomplished without volunteers like Rydall. Armed with a hot meal and a warm smile, she is a superhero dedicated to overcoming any obstacle that might make a senior go hungry. Her father, and Spielberg, would be proud.

For more information call the SCV Senior Center at 259-9444.

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