Meals on Wheels thanks longtime volunteer

Longtime Meals on Wheels volunteer Vern Van Buskirk, center, poses with the organization's executive director Laurie Hartmann, right, and volunteer coordinator Lisa Dilworth, Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018. (Robinson Kuntz/Daily Republic)

 

Meals on Wheels thanks longtime volunteer

By Ian Thompson

FAIRFIELD — Longtime volunteer Vern Van Buskirk has stepped out from behind the wheel after 32 years of helping get homebound seniors the meals they need. Members of Meals on Wheels of Solano County visited Van Buskirk on Tuesday at his home at Paradise Valley Estates to thank him for more than three decades of delivering meals and serving on the board. Meals on Wheels Executive Director Laurie Hartmann described Val Buskirk as a vital and caring member of the Meals on Wheels family. Two weeks earlier, Van Buskirk retired from Meals on Wheels because of health concerns and to spend more time with his family, he said. Van Buskirk, a retired Air Force officer, connected with Meals on Wheels when friend Nancy Rossi suggested that he serve on the board of the nonprofit that delivers meals to shut-in senior citizens. “I started off as a board member and served as that until the president (of the board) at that time had a heart attack,” Van Buskirk said. “I took over and finished that term.” Van Buskirk also was driving meals to homebound seniors twice a week. His first routes were the area around Travis Air Force Base and into Green Valley. His average route had about 30 stops and took almost three hours to complete. “I just enjoyed doing it. It gave me time to myself and gave me a sense accomplishment,” Van Buskirk said. When he started, the meals were prepared at a local hospital and the drivers would go to the Fairfield Senior Center to collect their delivery routes. “Then we would go around the backside of the hospital to collect the meals,” Van Buskirk said. “About 25 percent of them were individualized for the senior.” Van Buskirk and other meal delivery volunteers sometimes “were often their only outside contact,” he said. As a board member, “we were always looking for extra money to provide more service,” Van Buskirk said. Looking back, Van Buskirk said there was no doubt that Meals on Wheels has made a difference in senior citizens’ lives. He also said Meals on Wheels is more important than ever since people are living longer. Van Buskirk said community support is also more important than ever, whether it is financial support or volunteer support helping deliver the meals. “It helped them stay in their homes,” Van Buskirk said. “In some cases, if we didn’t bring them meals, they would be unable to stay in their homes.”

Link to article: https://www.dailyrepublic.com/all-dr-news/solano-news/fairfield/paradise...