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TLC Meals on Wheels Steps Up to Address Local Needs

12/22/2017
10:58 AM
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As the need for meal-delivery services for seniors grows, it’s a good thing people like Dan Herndon are around. 

Herndon joined the forces at TLC Meals on Wheels, the privately-funded Centennial chapter of the national nonprofit organization, about two years ago. In that time, he has earned thanks from grateful meal recipients and a fitting nickname: “Double-Duty Dan.”

“There have been times — and it doesn’t happen very often — when a volunteer forgets that they’re supposed to drive, so at the last minute we’re stuck without a driver and he’s been known to deliver a route, come back, and then go out and deliver another route on the same day,” said Diane McClymonds, executive director of TLC Meals on Wheels.

Herndon also was named the nonprofit's “Volunteer of the Year” for 2017 for his tireless efforts. Five days a week, he loads up his Toyota 4-Runner with nutritious meals and delivers as a substitute driver. Methodical in his work and humble in his demeanor, Herndon simply says: “I like to drive.”

But it’s clear that the retired engineer who spent much of his career in the oil and gas business (he also drove a taxi in his youth) has a big place in his heart for those within his community who are truly in need of a healthy meal and a kindly “hello.”

“The nutrition is great, but really it’s the friendly face at the door that is just as important to many of these people,” McClymonds said. “They’re lonely. They don’t see a lot of people in a given day and they look forward to our volunteers coming with the meal.”

For decades now, it has been people like Herndon who have served an ever-growing population of people in need. Right now, 425 people in TLC Meals on Wheels’ 95-square-mile territory rely on the service to get by. The organization — based at the former Ames Elementary School building in Centennial — serves parts of Centennial and Denver, and all of Littleton and Englewood.

The annual figures are staggering: the nonprofit set a record with 112,000 meals delivered this year. Roughly 90 percent of TLC Meals on Wheels’ clientele are seniors; the other 10 percent are people who are disabled and homebound.

Around this time of year, clients get a little something in addition to the meals through the longstanding “12 Days of Gifts” program. TLC Meals on Wheels receives donated items — everything from travel-size toiletries to fleece blankets handmade by people performing community service through the Arapahoe County court system — and doles them out in the 12 days leading up to Christmas Eve. Sometimes, they are the only presents the clients will receive. This year alone, the “12 Days of Gifts” program will hand out 4,800 gifts.

Volunteers at the TLC Meals on Wheels headquarters carefully divvy up the donated items and get them ready for drivers to take on their routes. Meanwhile, the kitchen staff prepares tasty meals in assembly-line fashion. Other volunteers perform much-needed administrative work and execute the logistics of such a large operation with impressive precision, all the while laughing and chatting with their philanthropic cohorts.

McClymonds and Herndon are prime examples of the type of people who come to the organization; both retired from corporate America and were looking for a way to use their free time to serve the community. At TLC Meals on Wheels, they each found a role that suits their skills. 

“I love it,” McClymonds says. “It’s one of those stories where I took my passion and turned it into my career.”

For more information on how to volunteer at TLC Meals on Wheels, go to www.tlcmealsonwheels.org or call 303-798-7642.

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City of Centennial
13133 East Arapahoe Road
Centennial, CO  80112

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