Meals on Wheels New Hampshire

Spotlight Stories

Doing the North Country Proud

PHYLLIS SHERMAN, Gibson Center for Senior Services


It’s not unusual for Meals on Wheels volunteer driver Phyllis Sherman to drive as many as 70 miles on some of her routes.  “There’s some winding roads, some hills and not all of the roads as paved,” she says.  “On some days, my car gets quite a work-out.”

Phyllis, 85, has lived and worked on her family farm for 58 years, along with some of her children and grandchildren.  In addition to raising animals and growing produce, the family operates the Sherman Corn Maze each fall which draws people from across the Northeast.

A volunteer for the past 10 years, she says “I love meeting and talking to people.  Some people are lonely, so I know it means a lot to them when we talk.  It’s sometimes a short conversation, but very meaningful.”

Beyond her volunteer service, Phyllis and her family provide large donations of vegetables from her farm each year to MOWs, which home cooks the food for delivery. In her free time, she enjoys travel with her daughter, last fall they went on a river cruise in Europe.

“This is a great community and I enjoy volunteering and helping out the Gibson Center-it’s a wonderful resource,” says Phyllis.  “It’s nice getting to know people and hear about their families.”

Committed To Caring

LELIA VILLENEUVE, Senior Meals of Coos County and Berlin Senior Center

Site Operations Manager

Having joined the agency over 35 years ago, it’s safe to say that Lelia knows the organization “inside and out.  “Over the years, I’ve done pretty much every job here.  From preparing meals to delivery to most things in between.  We all step up to meet the needs of those we serve.”

A point of particular pride is the role the center played during the pandemic.  “We didn’t miss a day,” she says.  “We had staff out some days and volunteers who couldn’t come in.  Our goal was to continue to get meals out for delivery and we were able to do that.”

Lelia praises the legacy of “volunteer power” and donor support the Center has built up over the years.  “This is close knit community and people are always stepping up when there’s a need. That’s not to say that we don’t have challenges like many agencies, but our team always rises to the occasion.”

Supporting older adults in the North Country has truly become her life’s work.  “I love working with seniors,” she said.  “Everyone has a story to tell and they have had very interesting lives.  I feel great at the end of each day to know that we’re making a difference.”

“I love what I do!”

It's been a blessing

MARILYN, Peterborough, NH

Meals on Wheels Client

Marilyn first became connected to Meals on Wheels when caring for her husband. “I didn’t know that I was eligible,” she recalls. “And the service was such a big help to us at that time. It was a real time saver.” A native of Massachusetts, Marilyn and her husband moved to NH to pursue their teaching careers and worked at Con-Val for many years. On this Marilyn, 85, chats with MOW’s driver Fran, who covers several towns in the Monadnock Region, driving about 50 miles a shift in the process.



HSPP Center Manager, Community Action Program – Belknap and Merrimack Counties

In 2015 and recently retired from a 36-year career in education, Richard “Rich” Penney was looking for his “next chapter in life. I certainly wasn’t going to sit on the couch,” he recalls. “I was aware of the need for senior support services, so I joined CAP and the senior center. . .things have certainly progressed from there.”

Over the next several years, Rich’s responsibilities grew from organizing activities for the congregate dining program at the Horseshoe Pond Center to implementing the Meals on Wheels program for Greater Concord. “The feedback was pretty clear that the service was needed,” he says. “We had been hearing that there were people who needed the meals but couldn’t necessarily get to the community dining program. So, we brought the meals to them.”

Fast forward to present day and you’ll find Rich working with staff and volunteers each morning to package and delivery dozens of meals, return to the Center to set up congregate dining, and then overseeing activities such as yoga or Silver Sneakers.

Rich frequently delivers meals, loading the back of his red pick-up truck for stops across the city. He delivers the meals and talks to each client-many of whom he has known for several years. “It’s important for me to do this. I get to meet the clients-which is great, and I experience what our drivers see and hear. This keeps me in touch with what is going on. All of this feedback is valuable and helps us do the best possible job for those we serve.” Sometime referring to his work as “having many plates in the air,” on this day, Rich is mentoring a new volunteer, packaging meals, and talking on the phone to a new driver about local construction near one of the delivery sites. When reminded that his “retirement job” can often last from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 or later each day, Rich laughs and says “I wouldn’t have it any other way. We’re helping people to stay at home and safe where they want to be. . . this work is addictive. . .I truly love what I do!”


ALICE, Concord, NH

Meals on Wheels Client

“I love the food and visits from Rich and the others,” says Alice with a smile. Now 84, she lives in a high-rise apartment in Concord and is sometimes limited by her arthritis. “Sometimes it’s hard to move around or cook,” she says. “That’s why getting the meals at home is such a big help.” Alice receives her meals from Rich at CAPBM, who has known her for years. We talk about our families. It’s a great part of the day.”

Alice first began receiving meal deliveries over 10 years ago and credits the service for helping her remain independent and able to live on her own. Among her meal favorites are chicken, steamed vegetables, and hot dog with beans. “Having the meals home delivered has been a godsend. I always recommend this service to all of my friends.”



Meals on Wheels Volunteer

The Meals on Wheels mission runs deep for Ovie Charest, who helps prepare meals for delivery and community dining. “My mother was a Meals on Wheels driver, as were some of her friends,” he says. “So I grew up hearing her talk about the mission and what it meant to the clients. . .I knew it was something I wanted to be part of.” Having worked in the food service industry, Ovie brings a solid background to the bustling kitchen. On this day, he, other staff and volunteers participate in a whirlwind of activity as they prepare hot meals, package food for delivery, and prepare for community dining. “This is the perfect job for me.” he says. “I love what I do, I work with tremendous people, and I’m part of a wonderful asset to our community.”

“I love it all!”


SHIRLEY AND ARLENE, Strafford County

Meals on Wheels Clients

“You don’t have to do it all yourself,” says Shirley, a Meals On Wheels client.  “Having the meals home delivered has made such a big difference in my life.” Shirley and her roommate Arlene have been Meals on Wheels clients for several years.  The pair say they initially didn’t know if they qualified for the service but are now very glad they decided to join.

“I love all of the people who deliver our meals,” says Arlene.  “They are very nice. . .I really couldn’t ask for better.”

Each has health challenges which can make cooking difficult.  Among their favorite meals are meatballs, chicken and vegetables, and meat loaf.  They also speak highly of the check-ins which they feel helps keep them connected and safe.  “There’s no doubt that this wonderful service is one reason I can stay here,” noted Arlene.  “This is where I want to be.”


HELEN, Ossipee, NH

Meals on Wheels Client

At 82 years old, Helen signed up for Meals on Wheels after having surgery which gave her difficulty in preparing meals. “At first I wasn’t sure if I was eligible,” she recalls. “Then I learned that I could get the meals. What a relief!” Helen, who no longer drives, feels the program keeps her “safe at home. I’ve also made great friends with Ken and Linda (Meals on Wheels volunteer drivers).” “I think the meals are excellent . . .I tell my friends it’s a great program” “I highly recommend it!”