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Volunteer spotlight: Fighting the pandemic on multiple fronts

Meals on Wheels volunteer Bill Breckle

Bill Breckle is the first person many people see in an emergency. For others, he might be the only person they see on a given day. A St. Louis Park firefighter by trade, Bill also delivers Meals on Wheels to people in need once or twice a week for Hopkins/St. Louis Park Dinner at Your Door.

“In my off time, I still like to help people,” says Bill. “It gives me a chance to kind of check in with them” at a time they aren’t experiencing a crisis.

In the midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic, both of Bill’s jobs have taken on new meaning and challenges. He and his fellow first responders are donning protective gear and implementing new protocols to safely help people who may be affected by the virus.

As a Meals on Wheels volunteer, it means dropping meals at the door and backing up to a safe distance before the recipient comes to the door. Conversations that have become the norm with the people he delivers to now must happen from a distance. 

The physical distance between volunteer and recipient has increased. But with many people who get Meals on Wheels at elevated risk of complications from COVID-19, they are relying on meals delivered to their home more than ever.

“It’s more of a wave with a ‘Hey, how are you doing?’” says Bill. He’d normally ask if there was anything he could help with, such as changing a light bulb, but now he has to just rest easy knowing he’s still providing much needed food and a friendly face.

Bill says the knowledge he’s gained from his job helps connect the people he delivers to with other assistance services that he knows can make life easier for them. “With my connections at the fire station, I can say, hey, I’m a little worried about this person or this couple,” and find resources that can help, he says.

Thanks to Bill and thousands of other volunteers, Meals on Wheels recipients have one less thing to worry about in these challenging times.

You can support the work people like Bill are doing during the COVID-19 crisis by making a donation to Meals on Wheels, making or donating masks for our volunteers or signing up to be an on-call volunteer.