Giving back to the community he lives in for the past 14 years, John Paul Rose said he gets great enjoyment and satisfaction in making sure no one is left behind or forgotten thanks to the work he and others like him do in East Cork.
John has been volunteering with Midleton Meals on Wheels, helping to prepare and deliver 10,000 hot meals annually for almost 15 years as well as being involved in Munster Great Escapes which is a friendship club with persons with special needs.
“I got involved in Midleton Meals on Wheels because I was asked would I help out. I find with these things there is always a connection, someone reaches out.”
John got involved in Munster Great Escapes through an old work colleague who had special needs and who was looking for an avenue of getting out and about with similar souls.
“I got involved in Munster Great Escapes through a man I have been supporting for many years. He worked where I worked years ago and he had no family, so I became an advocate for him.”
John said this man had work and a place to live independently, but he felt he had no one to socialise with or go on holidays with, until John found Munster Great Escapes which organises trips and events for people with special needs so they can connect.
“I found Munster Great Escapes and I was blown away by the organisation so six years ago I started to get involved, volunteering with them.”
The Midleton man said he meets a lot of people through volunteering and he likes this aspect of the role.
“I’m very outgoing, I like chatting and I like to help where I can. When you are going into the kitchen at 7am on a cold winter’s morning, and you come out at 12.30pm with 100 meals ready to go, you feel a great satisfaction and you feel like you have made a difference.”
John, who is the chairperson of the Midleton Meals on Wheels for the past six years, said there is a lot of administrative work involved in keeping the charity going from legal paperwork to finances and recruiting volunteers to logistics.
The Midleton Meals on Wheels Chairperson also said the traditional clientele was changing slightly over the months and years.
“We have a lot of older people who are living independently and who need a hot meal, but we also have people coming out of serious illness, maybe younger people, who take on the service for a short term period, maybe six months because they need support.
“We also get referrals from doctors for people recovering from substance abuse who could do with a hot nutritious meal to eat.”
John said the most important thing to him was that no one was forgotten and everyone was looked after in some capacity.
“We are making sure no one falls through the cracks.”
The veteran volunteer also highlighted the wellbeing and social element to the charity work that is ongoing.
“We are providing a vital service, a lifeline to people who want to stay in their homes, but there is also the social aspect, people calling to their doors, bringing them a meal and saying hello. For some people that means a lot.”
John said while he was not aware of the most popular meal on the Midleton Meals on Wheels menu, the feedback on what was not a firm favourite was well flagged.
“There are a lot of people who don’t want fish pie. That is very apparent, but overall the people we deliver to are happy with the meals we deliver. Although the meals are made in a commercial kitchen, it’s clear they are homemade and people get a sense of the car and love that went into making it.”
As well as making meals, the charity goes above and beyond the call of duty on a regular basis, delivering items such as shopping, medical supplies or entertainment pieces, like books or knitting wool and jigsaws for anyone who needs them.
John was quick to emphasise that he is one of 80 volunteers that keeps Midleton Meals on Wheels running across the district.
“Midleton Meals on Wheels is in its 51 years serving the communities of Midleton, Cloyne, East Ferry, Whitegate, Saleen, Ballinacurra and surrounding areas.
“The charity could not operate without the 80 dedicated volunteers who give so much of their time — a hard-working committee — and the support of the entire community, businesses, schools, sporting clubs the list goes on.”
You can follow Midleton Meals on Wheels on Facebook or log on to www.midletonmealsonwheels.ie to click and donate to the cause.
Any donations can be dropped off to Midleton Parish Hall any Wednesday or Saturday 9am to 11.30am.