Meals on Wheels Column: Millennials and more |

Meals on Wheels Column: Millennials and more

Younger generations become the new face of volunteering at Grand River Meals on Wheels

Kaaren Peck Guest Column
Kaaren Peck

During these uncertain times, the spirit of volunteerism is soaring here on the Western Slope of Colorado, and the younger generations are no exception.  Gen X, Y and Z have become the current backbone of the Grand River Meals on Wheels program. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a changing of the guard among the volunteer’s faces that remain at Grand River Health during the past two months. Older volunteers (in their 70s, 80s and 90s) have been encouraged by friends, family and our volunteer staff to stay at home. This shift has resulted in Generations X, Y and Z stepping up to the plate and bringing their time, talents and determination to the forefront of volunteering at Grand River Meals on Wheels.

Caryn and Kevin Hettler, take a lunch break to deliver meals in Rifle.

These Gen X-, Y- and Z-ers are taking COVID-19 seriously and putting in the time and getting the job done safely. Volunteering Monday through Friday, masked up, armed with hand sanitizer, and new safety protocols, they deliver meals to some of the most vulnerable populations in our communities. From the Shores of Harvey Gap to the ranches of Rulison, these volunteers take an extended lunchtime to sometimes drive more than 50 miles to get those meals out.

Millennial Jenna Collinge loads up meals with the help of her two sons, Wyatt and Garrett Tuesday in Rifle.

Curt and Kim Leitzinger started delivering meals over six years and continue today working it into their busy work schedules. Curt even asked his family to give to Grand River Meals On Wheels  for his Christmas gift one year. 

Natalie Diaz (right) and Daly Anchondo deliver meals on wheels in Parachute.

These new faces add to the existing, strong, volunteer force Grand River Health has had for years. Volunteers are an integral part of Grand River Health’s strength and success over the years. Many in the community have mentioned “in 1973 I used to volunteer at the Rifle Hospital” or “in 1988, I delivered Grand River Meals on Wheels through my church.”  But now with Gen X-, Y- and Z-ers are taking the helm.  Looks like there might be Meals on Wheels drivers out there for many years to come. 

Volunteer Kris Coombs pauses for a moment before headign out on her route.

The strong presence of Generation X, Y (Millennial) and Z has created a silver lining to this time. This is National Volunteer Week (April 19–25), and we want to thank the Grand River Health’s 150 volunteers from our young adults to the 90-somethings — you know who you are.  Collectively, our volunteers have put in over 10,000 hours in 2019 and keep coming back for more. What a legacy, especially during times like these — Thank you.

Teresa Vetter is one of the many Generation X volunteers helping volunteer with the Meals on Wheels program.

Kaaren Peck is the director of volunteer services for Grand River Meals on Wheels.

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