On Wednesday afternoon, LifeCare Alliance, the agency that provides Meals-on-Wheels for Champaign County, honored Gary Rensi and the Champaign County Library during its annual Spirit Awards celebration.
Rensi was presented the Champaign County Meals-on-Wheels Spirit Award by Stephanie Sparrow-Hughes, manager of Corporate and Community Engagement for LifeCare Alliance, during a luncheon ceremony held at the Champaign County Library.
Rensi began delivering Meals-on-Wheels to the county’s home-bound seniors in December of 2018. During the recent pandemic, when most people stayed close to home, Gary heeded the call for more volunteers to make sure clients – primarily older adults – received their meals and were safe within their homes. On many days, he was the only face these clients saw during the long lockdown.
Rensi was recognized, not only for his efforts, but for teaching the lessons of service to his son. He began bringing his 11-year-old son Elliot along during the pandemic.
“Clients love to see kids volunteering with their parents,” says Sparrow-Hughes. “It just brightens their day to receive their meal and a smile from a child.”
Rensi delivers meals from the Mechanicsburg Fire Station, one of LifeCare Alliance’s satellite locations. Sparrow-Hughes says the agency has a critical need for volunteers out of this location and that Rensi often saves the day by picking up extra shifts whenever his schedule allows. He has volunteered over 100 hours and driven over 800 miles serving the residents of Champaign County.
Library honored for dining center support during pandemic
The Champaign County Library was also honored, receiving the Champaign County Dining Center Spirit Award from Claire Eastman, director of Corporate and Community Engagement for LifeCare Alliance.
During the state mandated shutdown, restaurants, as well as LifeCare Alliance’s congregate dining centers, were forced to close their doors. At this time, LifeCare Alliance sprang into action initiating Grab-n-Go meals for those who typically lunched with friends in a dining center.
Under the leadership of Ty Henderson, director, the Champaign County Library generously opened its doors to provide space for the LifeCare Alliance team to set up a Grab-n-Go station that allowed seniors to pick up their meals while maintaining a safe social distance. At the peak of the pandemic, the library accommodated the distribution of 240 meals every Friday.
Now that COVID protocols have been lifted, the library has stepped up to provide a temporary space that allows seniors to meet for lunch while LifeCare Alliance’s congregate dining program transitions back to normal operations.
“The library has been totally instrumental in LifeCare Alliance being able to continue providing meals to our clients in Champaign County,” says Eastman.
LifeCare Alliance has served Meals-on-Wheels to older adults and those with a medical challenge or disability in Champaign County since 2014. The agency relies on the efforts of volunteers to serve the ever increasing demand for meals as the population ages. More volunteers in Champaign County are desperately needed and there are multiple satellite distribution sites around the county.
If you would like to volunteer, you can call the LifeCare Alliance Volunteer Hotline at 614-444-MEAL or sign up online at www.lifecarealliance.org/volunteer
About LifeCare Alliance
Formed in 1898, LifeCare Alliance provides a comprehensive array of health and nutrition services to older adults and individuals living with a medical challenge or disability in central Ohio – keeping them safe, independent, and in their own homes, where they want to be. LifeCare Alliance operates a national model for its programs, leading in volunteer engagement, effective mergers, and social entrepreneurship. A not-for-profit organization, the agency’s mission is to lead the community in identifying and delivering health and nutrition services to meet the community’s changing needs.