“When there's a need, people are there for each other. That’s the America I know.”
“2020 has been a heck of a year. When the Shamrock community center burned down in February, all the equipment and food Meals on Wheels had was lost. All of it. Of course, we still had 40 disabled and elderly people to feed the day of the fire and every day after that, because that’s what Meals on Wheels does. We started making the meals out of our kitchen at home and everyone helped. Then we started making meals in the kitchen of a church in town. Eva Joyce, our cook, she never stopped. She kept on cooking.
People heard what was going on and they started donating money. After about a week or 10 days I thought, you know, I think we’re going to have enough to build a building. Got a local contractor to sit down to discuss it and he said, I think we can do it and I’ll donate half my time. So we went to work. I had electricians call me and say, if you can buy the materials, I'll do the work for free. Plumbers, everyone. That foundation there? The guys told us if we bought the concrete, they’d finish it for us.
The generosity was overwhelming. We received money from people we've never heard of. We received generous donations from people that say, ‘Here it is. We wish to remain anonymous.’ A church group in Georgia sent us a check. A church group in Alabama sent us a check and you know it was from a collection because the check was for an odd number, like $487 and 13 cents.
And throughout all this, from the fire in February to the ribbon-cutting of our new building in October, we never missed a meal. With COVID, it was even more important that we keep delivering the meals and checking in on them. You know, they're alone. I call them our invisible community because we don't really know they're here, but they're here in this little town. We’re going to take care of these people. The people we serve, 20 years ago they were the first ones to bring a dish to a home if you had a death in the family. Or they were the ones that were, you know, spending hours every week, coaching little kids, baseball, you know, they were the ones who were doing that. They did it for us for so many years, we're gonna make sure we do it for them now.
The community really responded. I spent two or three afternoons unloading carloads and vans full of canned goods and food and supplies that people were bringing in from all over the county. Even way up in the north part of the county, the admission to get into basketball and baseball games was canned goods for Meals on Wheels in Shamrock. They were saying if you don’t have canned goods to bring, you're not getting in. So, the whole area came through for us.
And that’s the beauty of living in rural America. There is no question in my mind that the same response happens in metropolitan areas, but it might be confined to a neighborhood or smaller area. When there's a need, people are there for each other. The American public, they might not like each other’s politics, or whatever, but now if you need something, they will say what can I do to help. That’s the America I know.” -- Noel #Texas