When Mary Corbett signed up to COPE Galway’s Meals on Wheels, she didn’t think twice about it; she simply felt that it was the right thing to do. Four decades later, she says she gained more from the experience than she could ever give back. Here’s her story:
Every Saturday morning for 36 years, Mary Corbett got in her car and for two hours, delivered meals to the people of Galway. She delivered thousands of meals to hundreds of people over the years, made some great friends, and has some extraordinarily wonderful memories. Mary recently retired due to a fall, and says she misses some of the clients of Meals on Wheels Community Catering, “like the dickens”.
“Over time, you make a lot of friends. Some of the people were great fun altogether. People-wise, it was lovely, and some of the people, I miss them like the dickens. I'd love to ring them up and see how they're doing. It was so much part of my life, it was very hard to let go.”
Having spent her whole life working full-time, while also volunteering, Mary initially became involved as she believed it was a worthy cause - something she felt that she would like to contribute to. When she retired from her day job, she continued to volunteer, and looked forward with even more enthusiasm for her Saturday COPE Galway Community Catering run. “There was always a great feeling of satisfaction when I came home on Saturday at lunchtime and I had done something, especially after I had retired. If you do a bit of volunteering, you don't feel the time. Also, it teaches you a lot - it teaches you how lucky you are, because some of the people who have used the service really couldn't help themselves. The world I grew up in, you volunteered because you'd like someone to do it for you. It's been good. I was blessed to be able to do it too.”
To those who have some spare time on their hands, and who would like the opportunity to get involved in community work, Mary says; “I would absolutely recommend volunteering to anyone. You'll get so much out of it, you'll be surprised. It’s very satisfying to know you’re making a difference in people's lives, and you make friends too. Apart from that, you volunteer the time you want to volunteer, which can be just an hour or two a week - whatever you can offer.”
While Mary enjoyed the social side of meeting with the clients of COPE Galway Community Catering, knowing that the service serves such an essential and beneficial need was also something that appealed to Mary. “People need one good, nourishing meal a day. That’s really all you need. It's wonderful - that's what nourishes you.”
Those who have availed of the service throughout Mary’s time volunteering for COPE Galway have been of all ages, of all situations, and all backgrounds. Probably the most common reasons for those to sign up to the service is being unable to cook for themselves any more due to an illness, those who are recuperating, or simply for those who would rather get a cooked meal delivered to their door any day, or every day, instead of cooking. “A friend of mine, when she had an accident, and broke her right arm, she started using Community Catering. She was getting the meals on a regular basis. Several people I knew would use the service. I'd always think, ‘Good for you, you remembered to do it!’
For almost four decades, COPE Galway and its clients have benefited from Mary’s dedication, time, energy and compassion. In return, Mary says she’s gotten much more than she ever imagined from her time with the service. “If I was reversing my life and writing my CV, I'd be very proud to have that at the top of it. High standards, by golly. There's a lot of people, like me, who are getting on in years. They’ve been soldiering on for years and they’re still there. That’s the thing about COPE Galway - you want to stay.”
23rd September 2016
If you or a family member would like to avail of COPE Galway Community Catering Meals on Wheels service, you can contact them on 091 700800. Visit http://www.copegalway.ie/senior-support for further information.
Note to Editor:
COPE Galway is a local organisation whose vision is an “Improved Quality of Life in a Home of your Own” for people affected by homelessness, women and children experiencing domestic violence, and older people. COPE Galway helps to Improve Quality of Life in a Home Of Your Own by Supporting Home, Promoting Community and Reducing Isolation.
COPE Galway recently launched its Pre-Budget Submission, in which it is calling on Government to make additional funds available for Meals on Wheels so that a greater number of people across County Galway can benefit from the service, where none currently exists, and so remain living independently in their own homes.
According to its 2015 Annual Report, COPE Galway worked with 565 older people in need of nutritional and social supports. In 2015, COPE Galway produced and delivered over 55,000 meals to 401 older people through its Meals on Wheels service and catered for over 80 people weekly across seven Lunch Clubs in Galway City. In addition, the COPE Galway Community Support Service and Sonas Day Centre supported 84 people over the course of the year.