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Grafton Meals on Wheels volunteer Eleanor Powell (centre) was honoured for her 50 years’ service with the grassroots organisation on May 20. Image: contributed

Celebrating 50 years volunteering with Meals on Wheels

Emma Pritchard

After receiving her Community Recognition Statement on May 20 in celebration of her 50 years volunteering with Meals on Wheels, Grafton resident Eleanor Powell revealed there are many reasons why she loves what she does so much as she reflected on her long and proud association with the grassroots organisation.

For Mrs Powell, it’s not just about giving something back to her local community, or staying busy, it’s seeing the deep-set smiles of gratitude and warm expressions of joy on the faces of the people she visits and delivers meals to, ensuring they are comfortable and content, taking the time to ask them how they are and hearing their stories, meeting new people and forming new friendships, and helping to make a difference in the lives of others.

“I’ve always enjoyed working with people, it’s always been part of who I am,” she explained.

“Meals on Wheels is such a good organisation, and the service it provides to our local community is so important.

“A lot of people can’t go out and buy their own food, so to be able to provide them with a nice home cooked meal, and help take that little bit of worry away, it’s very rewarding.

“The people we visit always look forward to us coming, and it’s always nice to see them as well.”

Mrs Powell began volunteering with Meals on Wheels in the 1970s after her sister-in-law invited her to go along and help one day.

“And here I am, 50 years later,” she said.

Mrs Powell started volunteering as part of the St Andrews Presbyterian Church Group in 1974 and assisted with meal preparation in the kitchen.

“I remember when the meals used to be delivered in big metal pots which had three compartments to hold the hot food,” she recalled.

“Volunteers delivered the meals in their own cars, and we were always kept busy.”

Between 1994 and 2016, Mrs Powell organised the roster for Grafton Meals on Wheels volunteers, and in 2021, she was inducted into the NSW Meals and Wheels Hall of Fame in recognition of her ongoing contributions.

In 2022, she was made a life member of Grafton Meals on Wheels and continues to volunteer twice a month delivering between 50 and 60 meals to residents throughout Grafton.

“I love what I do, and I love volunteering to help those in need,” she said.

As he presented Mrs Powell with her Community Recognition Statement last week, Member for Clarence Richie Williamson congratulated her for her past and ongoing contributions and encouraged more people across the Clarence Valley to become volunteers.