Neighbor Spotlight: Meals On Wheels

March 2, 2020 5:45 pm

Neighbor Spotlight | Margaret McGinn | March 2020

For over twenty years, Margaret McGinn served the Meals on Wheels of Monmouth County program as an employee of Interfaith Neighbors.

What began as a part-time volunteer commitment in 1999 quickly led to a new career for the 63-year-old, who worked as a publishing industry employee before taking time off to raise her two children.

“When the kids were in middle school, I started searching for part-time work that would work around their schedules,” the Minnesota native said. “I wanted something that would allow me to run around.”

McGinn, who retired this fall, said despite an affinity for delivering the meals, she was hired two years later to serve as a kitchen aid at the Congregate Howell site.

“You know how they say, ‘never say never,” she said. “One day they had a party, and the long-time site manager Marie Barris said if you want to stay and give a hand after you do the run, why don’t you come back. I said, oh thank you but I like to deliver the meals. Boy was I wrong.”

McGinn’s 21-year tenure took her from eventually becoming the site manager at Howell’s congregate meal site to serving in Keyport and then onto Red Bank for the past decade.

“When I first began, I thought this was an avenue to help people, to bring something to their day,” she said. “I think I felt I was helping them, but, and you’ll hear this from a lot of volunteers, we get so much more out of it than you would think.

“Meeting the seniors was an extraordinary revelation about how they live, sometimes with such grace, with so little, in poverty or in ill health, and, for some, in isolation,” McGinn said. “I kind of felt this would be a nice thing to do for them but, in all honesty, you start to see how remarkable it is that these people let you walk into their lives and into their homes, but they walk into your hearts. How utterly kind they are with our volunteers was a pleasant surprise.”

In Red Bank, McGinn managed a team of five kitchen volunteers who prepare over 70 daily meals for delivery throughout Red Bank, Fair Haven, Rumson, Lincroft, and Middletown, as well as another dozen for the congregate site guests.

“They have been volunteering for over 20 years and some do have children in their sixties,” McGinn said. “One of our volunteers is Josephine Smiga, a 92-year-old who still helps in the kitchen.”

McGinn refers to the Meals on Wheels service as a humbling honor.

“When we walk through that door, we walk into their lives in a very personal way,” she said. “It’s difficult to see sometimes the condition people are in; sometimes the homes would be in poor shape, or they themselves would be in poor shape, but if you look beyond that, you can see them.”

Every day, over 125 volunteers arrive at one of the Meals on Wheels Monmouth County sites. They help prepare and serve the meals or sign on to deliver meals to our homebound senior citizens. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Beth Paterno at 732-775-0525 , ext. 227 or via email at [email protected].


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