Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Come to the party, for folks like Joe

I don’t know a lot about Joe.

He’s quiet and lives all alone in a house that defines the word “spartan.” So spartan, in fact, that I thought I had the wrong address the first time I visited. There was no car in the garage, and no furniture in his living room. The house appeared to be abandoned until I spotted a portable TV on an old aluminum cart in the dining room and a few clothes hanging on a line in the front bedroom.

Joe is soft spoken. I’ll bet his voice was once a rich tenor but now a raspy hoarseness disfigures its high pitch.

The tall, slow-moving man also is one of very few words. I often wonder if that’s because he doesn’t have much to say or if it's because he has few opportunities to talk with other people.

I see Joe every Friday, and he’s always dressed in clean khakis and a neat, buttoned-up shirt. I often comment on how much I like the sporty baseball cap with a Burberry-like plaid front that he wears regularly. In a gentlemanly gesture, he’s greeted me at his garage door throughout the winter and wet spring so I don't have to navigate a snowy or slippery walk.

Joe is the first person on my weekly Meals on Wheels route, and he’s a primary reason I’m going to the Hoosier Derby Party on Friday, the eve of the Kentucky Derby.

The fundraiser – open to all – will help Meals on Wheels provide hot, nutritious food to seniors, disabled and homebound people in every Hamilton County community when they can’t afford groceries or make their own meals.

MoW's vision is to end senior hunger by 2020, and the challenge is great. Indiana ranked 12th in the nation for food insecurity among seniors, according to a 2009 study done for the Meals on Wheels of America Association. Currently MoW delivers about 200 meals a day here; with the county’s graying population, we on the board and staff know the demand is going to grow dramatically in coming years.

Imagine. The cost of one $50 ticket to the Hoosier Derby party – which is going to be a fabulous night of virtual horse racing, complimentary mint juleps, music, fellowship and bourbon tasting -- would pay for two weeks of meals for a senior. That person might live in your neighborhood, go to your church or even be a member of the family.

The party begins at 6:30 at Sagamore Golf Club. Reservations can be placed with the Meals on Wheels office, 317-776-7159, but walk-in guests and donations are welcome, as well.

The evening is going to be fun for me. Its proceeds are going to be a lifeline, though, for folks like Joe.

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