Thursday, July 31, 2014

An Interview with Lisa Drummey, Director of Norwood Meals on Wheels

CW: Thanks for joining me Lisa, we’re very excited to be putting on the Napper Tandys Flyer to benefit Norwood Meals on Wheels and we’re trying to get as many runners as we can to come down to support the cause.

LD: As will we

CW: So I’m just going to begin with some basic questions about Norwood Meals on Wheels. How many people do you serve in a year?

LD: In a year we can serve anywhere from 5,000-8,000 meals a year, which for us is huge because we’re only providing services in Norwood. A lot of those numbers represent the regulars who we have 5 days a week, but we have a lot of different types of clientele that come on and off the program throughout the year.

CW: How did this program get started?

LD:  In 1975 one of the churches in Norwood noticed that there was a need. There were people that were home bound, whether it was due to surgery, the New England weather, not having their license anymore, who didn't have access to shop and couldn't prepare meals for themselves.   So the church started the program and provided meal to those in Norwood.  The state subsidizes many other similar programs but we decided to stay in Norwood. Some of the state mandated programs have age and health requirements but we have no age requirements. Our only requirement is that you have the need.  No age requirement is huge for us because a lot of our people might be people with disabilities, such as the mentally impaired adults that are able to work but not able to cook for themselves at home, so it’s one less worry for them and their families during their day.

CW: How many people are on your staff?

LD: We have approximately 30-35 people and they’re all volunteers. I coordinate with them and everyday we have two packers that go down to the Ellis and prepare our meals These volunteers will take care of all of the logistical stuff and I send down a packet to the Ellis with all of the labels and requirements for people, including any of their dietary needs. Everybody gets an individual meal, even if it’s for example a husband and wife at the same house because they most likely have different restrictions. We have 3 volunteer drivers that come in to drive the three geographical routes to deliver the meals. That rotates each day, so when a volunteer commits it usually about an hour to an hour and a half a week, and it’s usually the same day every week. Many of our volunteers themselves are retired and they might do other things so they can have their set day that they work giving them their schedule so that’s great.

CW: So let’s go back in time, if you could tell me how you got involved in the program?

LD:   I was asked to take the position from a friend of the family.   It’s such a fabulous program that it was hard for me to say no.  The majority of the work I do from home and so it fits well into my life.  Everybody with the exception of me, are volunteers.  I couldn't do it without them, I really couldn't.

CW: It sounds like a team effort. Could you talk now about how is this program funded?

LD: We are funded by private donations and grants. The Ellis charges us for the meals, so we in turn, unfortunately, do have a fee that we charge our recipients.  We used to get a huge grant from the United Way however,  their funding criteria kind of changed.  Our budget is a shoestring budget, we don’t do a lot in the press per say because we don’t have a marketing budget. The one thing we do is we put inserts in the electric bills.  We’ll get donations from the town. We always get a very generous contribution from Norwood Bank every year.  Aside from those organizations and companies, we supplement with grants that come along and really the generosity of the town.

CW: So over the time that you've worked with Norwood Meals on Wheels I assume you've seen an increase in demand for your services.  What does the future look like for the program and your population in need?

LD:  I think that our services will always have a place in the community.. The demand constantly changes. It’s always a program that fluctuates, sometimes you are bursting at the seams with people and then you pull back a little.  We just had one women who stopped the program because she had to go into assisted living full time, she had Alzheimer’s, but her daughter wrote a very lovely note and she was able to get maybe another year, year and a half in her own home because of the program. The meal component is really important with Alzheimer’s because of the forgetfulness, sometimes they just forget that they have to cook. People use us for various reasons. We just had someone come on because she had arm surgery, so she may be one of those people that are short term, she has her couple months, or she may decide, “you know what? I really like this. This is really helpful to me” and maybe just cut back to a couple of days a week.  That’s why I think that the need is always there for us--our terms are flexible and we have no age limitations.

CW:  I imagine you’ve helped and have gotten to know a lot of people doing this type of work. Do you have any special memory or any special person who sticks in your mind?

LD: I do, I do. Gosh I have so many, they’re all so wonderful. I do fondly remember a woman who was real tough to crack at first.  She was kind of aloof, but somehow we got to talking about how she was from Lithuania, and my grandmother is Lithuanian, so once I shared that with her, she became my best friend. She was a favorite of mine and I remember as the sweetest, nicest woman ever.  There was one other gentleman, who was a charmer, and someone told me he had owned racehorses.  I shared this with my dad he said “I went to school with someone who owned a racehorse, he was always trying to charm the ladies”.  When I heard his name I almost fell over because it was this same man my dad went to school with.

CW: What a small world.

LD: Yeah, you miss them. You miss them when they go.

CW: Now walk me through a day in the life of the Meals on Wheels director. How do you start your day?

LD: Every day I get up and I check the messages on the phone at the Ellis and then I prepare the list of all our recipients for that day.  Then I’ll call the packers and tell them the recipients so they know who to not deliver a meal to that day. Then I will call the drivers and let them know if there are any changes to their route and if there’s anyone new. Then depending on how the day unfolds, on Tuesdays I help pack the meals, I’ll usually check the messages and do the billing once a month. I’m always looking for grants and writing thank you notes, sending out letters and soliciting donations. Sometimes I drive or train new drivers. The beauty of the job is that no two days are alike.  When adjustments need to be made, like if a driver can’t come in, I’ll have to move things around.

CW: Now, here’s the big question:  How does one get involved with this organization either as a volunteer or a recipient of the services you provide?  

LD: Just call our main number 781-769-9061 and leave a message.  I promise to return your call.  A lot folks find us by word of mouth.   A lot of our volunteers have come to us very randomly and they are great people.  We have to run a CORI check and then train you, and then you are good to go.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Borderland State Park Trail Run!

     The weather was perfect this Sunday morning. A cool breeze, light clouds to cover the sun, and the ground was nice and dry. Before our run, I had a cup of coffee and half of a banana to fuel me up. The caffeine in the coffee keeps me energized and awake, while the banana helps with those horrible side stitches. 
     Me, my mom, and our friend all decided to go trail running in the Borderland State Park. From where Charles River Running is located, it took about 20 mins to get to the park, which was in Sharon, MA. Not a bad drive, however, it did cost us $2 to park in the lot. We thought it would be a better idea, for next year, to buy The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) sticker for our car so we could visit these beautiful parks more often. 

     Out of the 18 trails in the park, we chose the Pond Walk which was 2.9 miles. It was a very pleasant run that included sights of ponds, open fields, and great wildlife. There were also many other people enjoying the morning as well. Mountain bikers zooming by, dogs pulling their owners around, and even horses! My all-time favorite animal in the world! We didn't explore the entire park, but I could tell this was a very populated and enjoyable place to be with your friends and family. 
     The trail path was very wide, unlike other trails we have ran on. This was probably because it was meant for many activities like walkers, bikers, horses, etc. The rocks were very loose on the ground as well. There were many ankle rolls and slips running on these trails, so I advise running shoes with good traction. For example the Salomon XR Mission, or for more rugged trails the Salomon Crossmax. Both of these shoes are sold at Charles River Running

   Can you spot the horses?! 

       At the end of our run, the trail led to the Ames Mansion! This amazing structure is the actual mansion that Blanche Ames and her husband lived in. For more information on the history and the park in general, visit their website here. There are scheduled mansion tours as well!
      In conclusion, this was a very neat place to explore and I deeply enjoyed seeing the mansion and the park around it. Other than the expense, I definitely recommend this place! 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Running while on Vacation: The Great Island Trail in Cape Cod

      Wow was this course an adventure. I mean that is basically what we called it, "the Cape Cod Adventure",  but the real name was the Great Island Trail. My group of 3 three and I ran 3 miles to the end of the trail, where we gazed upon such a great view of the ocean, and 2 miles back.
      I will be honest here and tell you that there were two attempts at this course. The first time was two days prior, at 9:30 AM in the scorching hot sun, no sunscreen or bug spray, and ankles buckling in the loose sand. It wasn't a good time.  We ended up having to turn around before we could reach our final destination. However, we took a day to recover and to plan the second attempt for the next morning. This time, we started at 7:30 AM, it rained the previous night which packed down the sand and cooled everything off, but with a little humidity and fog left over. We loaded up on sunscreen and bug spray, to protect us from those pesky flies. And finally, we knew what we were getting into. We accomplished the entire course! At the end some of the members decided to go for a little dip to cool off.

      For more information on the course itself, it was filled with sand dunes, pine tree woods, salty water, and mini crab invested marshes. I almost felt like a jungle animal running down the trail, dodging branches, and leaping over roots. At moments on the course, we had to stop, usually either because the sand was too loose to run in, the grass was too high, or we had to climb a dune. But, we accomplished it!
      The group members had some accessories that were very useful: we used Run Cuff and Run Keeper. The Run Cuff was used to carry our phones to take pictures of the landscape and Run Keeper was an app for the iPhone. Our run keeper user said, "I like it because it allows me to keep track of my exercise routines. So if I go running or walking or on the elliptical, it gives me a sense of what I am doing and how many calories I am burning. It also allows me to keep tracking of what I am eating and my nutrition. Also, what is cool is it gives me a map of where I ran, and you can post and share through the network on the iPhone".

The Adventure Crew

      To end this post, I am just going to fill you in with a couple reminders if you interested in running in Wellfleet MA and conquer the Great Island Trail:

  • Wear sunscreen!
    • Even if it is cloudy, the strong rays from the sun can peak out. I learned my lesson the first time. I ended up running with my arms inside my shirt.
  • Wear bug spray!
    • There are some evil little insects out there, especially in the marshes. Ticks in the grass, mosquitoes in the woods, and green head flies on the beach. Beware of the bugs!
  • Stretch!
    • The sand can be dangerous on your ankles if they were to roll. Also, there are many steep hills. Usually my calves and hamstrings get tight. 
  • Just keep going!
    • There are many places where you can stop and turn around, however, the ending feels great. Obstacles may get in the way, but just take on that challenge and go for it! 

We even saw a goofy little fox!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Running and Fitness Event for Women: Fun Run in Chicago

     Hey there! My name is Ginny Walsh, the daughter of Charlotte Walsh, and the new blogger for Charles River Running here to bring fresh new posts about running, products, insights, and races etc.
I have been running for almost 2 years, so I am just getting into the swing of things.
     What is a better way to start off a new blog post, than to write about the Fun Run for the Running and Fitness Event for Women last week! A beautiful and amazing 4 mile run on the lake front of Chicago was such a great way to start the morning at 6:30 am. My mom and I got to connect with runners, vendors, and suppliers and were able to try out new products.
     One of the products I got to test out, was the Mino. This was a little flat tablet that is inserted under the insole in the heel that lets me know when my shoes are worn out. Someone may think they would be able to feel it in their heel, however, I wasn't able to at all.  After my run, I discovered that my shoes were almost finished! I highly recommend getting a few of these for yourself, in case you are thinking about how long you have had your running shoes.
      Along with the Mino, we visited with bicbands, and tested an endurance drink called Nuun.  The best part about the event however, was the run! After the first day in Chicago, I automatically said, "This is the most beautiful city I had ever been to!" I am not much of a city girl, however, the architecture was amazing, the food was outstanding, and the lake was an image just waiting to be painted. Getting to run along the lake front while examining the sunrise was absolutely stunning! Everyone there was very friendly and willing to chat with you about their experiences as retailers, vendors and runners. I got to meet many great runners and come back with helpful tips.
     To conclude, this fun run was the perfect blend of business and pleasure! You were able to run, network and try new products. The people were so nice and willing talk about their products but if you didn't want to, they were perfectly okay with it. I loved going to this event and I would love to do it again!