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Address to Meals on Wheels Ottawa AGM 2015 "More Than A Meal"

I was pleased for the opportunity to contribute to celebrating and promoting this incredible organization that delivers an incomparable and inconceivable service to the Ottawa community to the benefit of more than 250 citizens every day. The difference this makes for seniors, people with disabilities, and others who have difficulty leaving their home impacts more than just those individuals. It is better for our community as a whole when people have choices that reduce the need for institutions and allows people more time and a longer time to remain in their own homes as our neighbours and friends.

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Address to Meals on Wheels Ottawa AGM 2015 "More Than A Meal"

  1. 1. Presentation to Meals on Wheels Ottawa Annual General Meeting June 17, 2015 AN ORGANIZATION THAT DELIVERS GREAT MEALS AND SO MUCH MORE: PROVIDING OPTIONS THAT CHANGE LIVES Keenan Wellar Co-Leader & Director of Communications
  2. 2. LiveWorkPlay 1995-2015 Engines of Success Celebrating 20 years of helping the community welcome people with intellectual disabilities to live, work, and play as valued citizens.
  3. 3. Thank you for including me in this Annual General Meeting and before I start I just want to say that delivering more than 250 hot meals a day – which we all know is only a part of what Meals on Wheels Ottawa contributes to our community – is a remarkable achievement. This organization does not get nearly enough recognition considering how much of a difference it makes in the lives of people in this community. So while I appreciate the invitation to talk about LiveWorkPlay, I want to do so for the purpose of showcasing some of the features of Meals on Wheels Ottawa as I have experienced as a representative of a partner agency and from my own personal experience. Two weeks ago I was celebrating the 20th anniversary of the LiveWorkPlay organization which my wife Julie Kingstone and I co-founded back in 1995, and more of less by accident it became a career starting in 1997, and some 18 years later we now have a staff of 15 and about 150 volunteers supporting about 100 people with intellectual disabilities and their families. A lot of what we celebrated on June 4 was not so much the internal progress of the organization but rather the community-building and benefits to the community as a whole derived from being neighbours, co-workers, classmates, and teammates. In other words, when we think and act more inclusively, it is better for everyone.
  4. 4. We also celebrated key partnerships, with a particular emphasis on those organizations where we have a longstanding relationship. Meals on Wheels Ottawa was chosen as one of three for formal recognition, representing a group of about 50 organizations that were eligible for the award. This was not a difficult choice, because back in 1998, thanks in part to a tip from Lucas Rogers who was already a Meals on Wheels volunteer and became part of LiveWorkPlay after that relationship was already in place, we found a willing partner in Meals on Wheels Ottawa. Initially, we had staff members as drivers and the young people we were supporting as servers. Over time our operations changed and we moved away from having individuals come to our centre and instead we began offering individualized supports based in people’s own neighbourhoods. The challenge there was we’d need to continue the Meals on Wheels partnership differently – could the individuals involved with LiveWorkPlay be matched up with drivers from the general Meals on Wheels volunteer pool instead of with LiveWorkPlay staff was the question, and the answer was YES they can! This has been the arrangement for more than 5 years now. I want to point out that I am also speaking here today as a former delivery driver myself, and I’m proudly wearing my 500 and 1000 and 1500 hours of service pins. Here is a little flashback to one of my favourite days.
  5. 5. Sometime In The Winter Of 2008
  6. 6. And so in conclusion, I want to pay tribute to Meals on Wheels not simply as a remarkable operation that delivers consistent quality meal service to seniors, those with chronic illness, people with disabilities, or people with medical needs or other reasons that make Meals on Wheels the right answer for them, but because Meals on Wheels is also part of the bigger social benefit of helping keep our community strong by supporting people who want to say in their homes with options other than institutional solutions. Meals on Wheels provides part of the answer to the questions raised about how people who are less able to care for themselves than in the past will remain in their homes, and the peace of mind provided by the remarkable quality of service from the Meals on Wheels team of dedicated staff and volunteers is of such great value there are no words to describe. Thank you for all that you do and I look forward to the day when my schedule permits me the time to return to active duty.