Sixty-nine-year-old Donovan "Don" Shultz began volunteering with Meals-On-Wheels in the eastern part of Lycoming County in 2004. He served as driver and runner at times, knowing the roads well from his earlier days delivering home heating oil in the area. He enjoyed serving others and the socialization he could bring to the ten to 12 people who were homebound on his 35-mile route.
Complications with diabetes led to the amputation of Don's right leg and, for a little while, he changed roles from Meals-On-Wheels volunteer to recipient while he recuperated in Montgomery.
"Attitude is everything," Don said. "I wasn't going to sit home and be depressed. I got stronger and got back to work as a volunteer again."
Donovan?“Don”?Shultz volunteers his time to ensure quality service is provided to Meals-on-Wheels customers, an agency funded by the Lycoming County United Way.
Don still could drive and would not be slowed down by only having one leg, according to Lesley Tebbs, manager of Meck Senior Center in Muncy.
"Don has one of the most upbeat personalities I've ever seen," Lesley. "He never complains and doesn't get depressed about his circumstances."
A few years later, Don had to have his left leg amputated as well but he continued to stay positive and help his friends at the center.
"I call bingo three times a week and we play cards," Don said. "I come to the center five days a week and we always have a good time. I believe having a positive outlook is the most important thing.
"I rode horses in competition when I was younger and traveled across the country on hunting trips. I am not going to sit home now and let life pass me by. I am going to get out and enjoy it."
"Don went along with a new Meals-On-Wheels volunteer recently because she was not as familiar with the area. He helped her learn her route and is always happy to pitch in," said volunteer Teresa Ault.
Across Lycoming County, STEP Inc. Office of Aging supports individuals more than 60 years of age to help them preserve their independence and remain active in their communities. STEP provides six Senior Community Centers throughout the county from Jersey Shore to Muncy with congregate meals and also provides home delivered meals, which is known as Meals-On-Wheels.
Through the home delivered meals program, a complete hot meal is delivered to people age 60 and older, who are homebound and unable to cook for themselves. Caseworkers visit the people requesting these services and assess their needs and make arrangements for delivered meals. The home delivered meals program has more than 300 volunteers throughout Lycoming County.
"The meals themselves provide the vital nourishment to our senior population and the volunteers like Don are dedicated to deliver them. But they also are providing an additional social benefit. In many cases, the Meals-On-Wheels volunteer and the mail-carrier may be the only people some of the homebound interact with on a daily basis," said Scott N. Lowery, executive director of the Lycoming County United Way. "Volunteers like Don can make a big difference in a recipient's day. To see him adapt to his physical challenges and keep such a positive outlook encourages those around him to do the same."
Along with delivered meals to senior's homes, congregate meals are provided to Senior Community Centers to four locations in Williamsport, one in Muncy, and one in Jersey Shore. Many seniors attend the community centers every week. Some services provided are a wide range of social, recreational, fitness and educational activities.
Fred Shrimp, Office of Aging's director, explained, "Success Through Engagement and Partnership is achieved in two ways. First, STEP's programs engage individuals, families and communities in their own strategies for success - the customers become involved directly, and truly own that which they achieve. Secondly, because no single organization can 'do it all,' success is achieved through partnerships with the complementary groups and entities that can also assist these individuals, families and communities."
Through the annual funds distribution process as determined by community volunteers, Lycoming County United Way provided $13,000 in funding for the Congregate Meals and Meals-on-Wheels programs at STEP.
For more information on the many programs STEP has to offer, call 326-0587 or visit www.stepcorp.org. For more information on the United Way, or to support the campaign that funds programs like these, contact the United Way office at 323-9448 or visit www.lcuw.org.