On Tuesday, January 3, Meals On Wheels of Tampa will launch new program, Water On Wheels (WOW), in partnership with the Lightning Foundation and Lightning Community Heroes Program, which provides Meals On Wheels Recipients 8 oz bottles of water, each day, to encourage healthy hydration.
Starting Tuesday morning, Volunteers will deliver bottles of water to each person on the Meals On Wheels of Tampa program, at the same time as delivering the daily hot meal, to over 700 senior and homebound meal Recipients in Tampa. Water is free of charge to Recipients. This program is a vital component to the agency’s 41-year old mission of nourishing, enriching and strengthening the independent lives of seniors and homebound, since seniors are more at risk of dehydration.
The WOW program was developed by Meals On Wheels of Tampa’s High School Leadership Board (HSLB) this past year to encourage healthy hydration. The program was developed directly in response to results collected from a survey that was sent out to all 700 HDM recipients last year. The student led group, which is comprised of Junior and Senior students from 5 local high schools, raised funds over the past year to provide reusable water tumblers, flavor packets, and educational materials to all 700+ seniors and homebound served by MOWTampa each day. The group also organized Tampa’s first ever Student Music Fest to benefit the WOW program.
In order to continue impacting the health of WOW on Recipients, HSLB President, Maggie Fitzsimmons, a Senior at H.B. Plant High School, took this project a step further, by applying and receiving the first ever Lightning Community Heroes of Tomorrow award (click here to see a 2 min video)! Thanks to the generosity from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, all active Recipients on the Meals On Wheels of Tampa program will receive free water bottles, along with their hot meal delivery, Monday through Friday, throughout 2017.
“My grandfather was a Recipient of Meals On Wheels. My Dad and I used to go to the story to buy him cases of water bottles because we knew Meals On Wheels did not provide that,” said Fitzsimmons. “Seeing I could do that for my Grandfather, I realize there are probably a lot of Recipients that don’t have somebody to do that for them. Drinking water is important for everyone, but especially important for the health of seniors and homebound.”
In response to this program, partnerships have been developed with local business, Ultra Pure Bottled Water, Inc. Existing partnerships with groups like Feeding Tampa Bay, the University of South Florida, and the Tampa Bay Network to End Hunger have been further strengthened as a result.
The HSLB was developed in the Fall of 2015 to provide a unique opportunity for students who want to get more involved with a local non-profit, focused on senior hunger. The mission of the HSLB is to connect high school students with Meals On Wheels of Tampa and their community, through a variety of activities including volunteering, fundraising and program development. This service-learning and leadership development group is comprised of outstanding high school students from 5 local high schools: Academy of Holy Names, Berkeley Preparatory School, H.B. Plant High School, Jesuit High School, and Tampa Preparatory School. These students contribute to and inform Meals On Wheels of Tampa programming, while acting as ambassadors and leaders in their communities.
Members of the 2016-2017 HSLB include: Maggie Fitzsimmons, Board President, Senior, H.B. Plant High School; Karina Barcenas, Junior, Berkeley Preparatory School; Allison Blair, Senior, Tampa Preparatory School; Bo Blair, Junior, Tampa Preparatory School; Catie Clark, Junior, Tampa Preparatory School; Hailey Eckerman, Junior, Academy of Holy Names; Harrison Lorenzen, Senior, Tampa Preparatory School; Ben Miller, Senior, Jesuit High School; Madeline Obregon, Junior, Academy of Holy Names; Bridget O’Carroll, Senior, Berkeley Preparatory School; John Robbins, Junior, Jesuit High School; and Susannah Wertz, Junior, Plant High School. The HSLB is led by Steve King, Executive Director, and Lauren Vance, Director Communications and Donor Relations.
Volunteers will receive a series of communications before the WOW program launch, with tips regarding consumption and reminders to recycle. Recipients will also receive educational information about hydration throughout the year. Feedback will also be collected from Recipients and Volunteers to evaluate WOW so we can continue to improve the program. Staff will evaluate the effectiveness of this program on Tampa’s seniors and homebound. Pre-test surveys have been completed; post-test surveys will begin this Spring.
“The High School Leadership Board is so excited for the chance to bring our project Water on Wheels to life! So much time and thought has gone into the initial fundraiser to raise money to benefit our mission to hydrate the homebound in Tampa!” Bridget O’Carroll, Senior at Berkeley Preparatory School.
For additional information or to schedule a ride along on January 3, please contact Lauren Vance at (813) 238-8410 or L.Vance@mowtampa.org
About Meals On Wheels of Tampa:
Meals On Wheels of Tampa has been committed to nourishing and enriching the independent lives of the homebound and seniors of Tampa since 1975. Today, Meals On Wheels of Tampa serves over 700 people with a hot meal during the lunch hour. Meals On Wheels of Tampa is a 4-star charity and relies on its community for support by not accepting government funding.
Interested in volunteering or want to learn more about Meals On Wheels of Tampa? Would you like to start receiving meals or do you know someone in need of home delivered meal service? Please visit www.MOWTampa.org or call (813) 238-8410.