Portsmouth Senior Center now a Meals on Wheels dispatch site

Organization proud that the delivery service never slowed down during pandemic

By Jim McGaw
Posted 3/21/22

PORTSMOUTH — Helen Spets opened the door to her third-floor apartment at Bay View Estates and greeted her visitors with a big smile and a warm welcome.

“Look at all of you!” …

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Portsmouth Senior Center now a Meals on Wheels dispatch site

Organization proud that the delivery service never slowed down during pandemic

Posted

PORTSMOUTH — Helen Spets opened the door to her third-floor apartment at Bay View Estates and greeted her visitors with a big smile and a warm welcome.

“Look at all of you!” exclaimed the 95-year-old Spets, who wasn’t expecting such a large group — two people from Meals on Wheels R.I. (MOWRI), a Town Council member, a reporter and photographer — to arrive at her door.

But this is March, the time when MOWRI’s administrators like to come out and visit their clients personally, to make sure they’re happy with the service as well as the volunteers who deliver their meals.

“It’s been wonderful,” Spets told Meghan Grady, executive director of MOWRI. “I hope people appreciate it as much as I do.”

Meghan and Town Council Vice President Linda Ujifusa delivered to Spets a shepherd’s pie — it was close to St. Patrick’s Day — multigrain bread, a vegetable, buttermilk biscuit, and a mixed fruit cup. Because this was a special visit, they also presented her with a blanket, slippers, and a puzzle.

The service goes back at least a generation in the Spets family. “Many years ago, my parents were introduced to Meals on Wheels in Massachusetts,” said Spets, who’s been a client for nearly three years. She was married to Carl “Russell” Spets, a U.S. Navy veteran of World War II, for 56 years before he passed away in 2007. 

Spets lives alone and can no longer drive, but she doesn’t complain. “I’m blessed. I have three great-grandchildren that live in Middletown, so I see them often,” she said.

Dispatch site

Spets is just one of thousands of Rhode Island clients that MOWRI serves, and now the organization has an even stronger foothold in Portsmouth. Shortly before they visited Spets, Grady and Ujifusa also attended a ribbon-cutting event to mark a new partnership with The Portsmouth Multi-Purpose Senior Center.

“We have really heightened our partnership with them over the past month or so. We are now partnering with them to be our dispatch site for Middletown and Portsmouth,” Grady said. “Each morning our catering company brings the home-delivered meals to the senior center. They collect them and greet the volunteers, who then bring them out into the community. Just to put things in perspective, last year we served 100 clients between the two communities and served over 2,000 meals.”

In Portsmouth alone, MOWRI’s Home-Delivered Meal Program served a total of 54 clients in Portsmouth in 2021 and delivered to them a total of 5,675 meals. That represents a service increase of 11 clients over 2020 and 3 percent in meals served over 2020.

“At the height of the pandemic, we were delivering as many as 4,000 meals a day. Many older adults found themselves homebound for the first time during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are really proud that during the pandemic, we operated without disruption,” said Grady.

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