While the nutritional aspects of Meals on
Wheels are an extremely important attrib-
ute, Richard and Lee Coalson also feel deliv-
ering is a good way to get their feet in the
door. Their clients feel the same way.
While some are thankful to just receive
the hot meal, most welcome the husband and
wife volunteers in as friends.
"Oh gosh, what a great group of clients,"
Richard said. "The joy the clients get with a
cheery face asking, `What's going on today?'
You know you've really touched somebody.
Week from week you realize you've become
a part of their life."
There have been times over the past seven
years when that involvement has encom-
passed their time of passing as well.
"We had one client we had ser ved for
three or for years. We had a really good rela-
tionship with this gentleman, and when doing
some remodeling we found a newspaper
packet with a picture he had done and signed
his name, George Baird. He had lived on
Owasco Lake, and was always talking about
the lake, asking what was going on. We went
to see him at Matthew House the day before
he died," Richard said.
The Sennet couple returned home to the
area from Pittsburgh, where they had relo-
cated when Richard secured a position as
research chemist with DuPont. It was there
that they were inspired to first volunteer for
Meals on Wheels.
"Looking at it from my mother's point of
view, as a daughter living six and a half hours
away, knowing there was someone expect-
ing her to answer her door, it was a very com-
forting thought for me," Lee said, explaining
that her mother was a client in this area while
they were away. "And I think that's true for oth-
ers, thinking, gee, this person will be stop-
ping there, in case they need help."
No stranger to volunteerism, Lee has been
involved with Girl Scouts, Hospice, the RISE
breast cancer program, and the Faatz-Crofut
Home for the Elderly.
"They come in to the office and our little
volunteer area, and their camaraderie with
the other volunteers is impressive. They com-
pare routes and they compare stories about
clients on their routes. They're always ask-
ing about so-and-so and how they're doing,"
said director of Meals on Wheels for the city
of Auburn, Tessi Spearing. She feels the hus-
band and wife team embody the spirit of the
"One of the things I love about Meals on
Wheels is for those that are alone, at least
there's someone there five days a week. That's
not a part of the job description of what you're
doing, but I very strongly feel it is a 50-50 sit-
uation. Along with providing nutrition, there
are some that are very lonely and they need
that knock on the door, to hear something
that's happy, an incident that's happened
beyond their life," Lee said.
"Some people just open their door and you
kind of develop a realization you are their
A husband and wife team
When asked the question, do I know someone who just goes above and beyond what
is expected? I would have a hard time just picking out one person. Meals on Wheels has
65 wonderful volunteers. I will try to limit my answer to only one or two people, howev-
er I want you to know you could put any name on the list here at Meals on Wheels.
Many volunteers have found one day a week delivering isn't enough and they want to
come in more often. Few say no when I call with a request for an extra day or substitut-
ing for a volunteer for whatever reason they can't make the deliveries that day.
A husband and wife team comes to mind when I think of volunteers who have gone above
duty. Dick and Lee Coalson are the volunteers I would like to nominate. They usually
deliver meals together, but perhaps one couldn't make the scheduled day, for sure the other
would do both the driving and serving. Just to make sure everyone one their route was
The clients and volunteers enjoy each other's company. You get involved with the peo-
ple you call upon. You discover they are more than just names and addresses. They are
human beings with emotions and like all of us they have needs. Helping others is very reward-
ing. Dick and Lee Coalson became very friendly with a client when they found he was the
painter of one of their artistic pieces. It gave all three much joy to get to know each other.
One day they came in to deliver and his name wasn't on the route sheet. "Where is he? Is
he OK?" There are the questions I hear most often.
Unfortunately, the client's health was failing and he didn't have much longer, Dick and
Lee made sure they made a personal visit to him. They brought him a wonderful gift not
only letting him know how important his life was, but to them he had become family.
It doesn't really take hard work to deliver a meal, but it is the dedication and compas-
sion that really makes for a good Meals on Wheels volunteer. All because of delivering a
meal to him once or twice a week, it made their lives that much more meaningful.
It is wonderful to know Meals on Wheels volunteers can make such a positive differ-
ence among so many in this community who lice along, some families live far away or
sadly because they are elderly and we push them aside. The reward of delivering a hot meal
is tremendous and I know how much Dick and Lee love doing their volunteering.
As I said, I could come up with 65 or more stories, this one is very representative of the
many volunteers we have in this community it also caters to the emotional needs of oth-
- Tessi Spearing
Cleen Hoselton / Special to The Citizen
Richard and Lee Coalson Meals On Wheels
The Citizen. Auburn, New York
People Who Make A Difference
Monday, February 27, 2006
Because on the Inside,
We're all the Same.
To encourage and ensure that every individual
has an equal opportunity to participate in the
economic, cultural, and intellectual life of the
community regardless of disability, creed, race,
sex, age or national origin.
AUBURN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION
24 South St., Memorial City Hall
Auburn, NY 255-4122
Web site www.ci.auburn.ny.us