More than meals

To celebrate its 45th anniversary, Meals on Wheels of Metro Tulsa launches a response to the senior boom.



Rose Mary Taber receives meals through Meals on Wheels.

For 45 years, Meals on Wheels of Metro Tulsa (MOWMT) has faithfully served the Tulsa community and surrounding areas. Its mission has always been to provide nutritious meals and meaningful contact to those in our community who are elderly, disabled and homebound. It has successfully accomplished that through the generosity of numerous volunteers and supporters over the years. However, with new leadership and a rapidly changing demographic, the scope of its service will be reinvented as it launches its bold initiative, Project 2020.

 

A temporary stop 

Calvin Moore, CEO and president of MOWMT, is the first new president of the organization in almost three decades. Moore inherited a firm foundation from longtime director Dan Rabovsky, who retired in 2014.

Tulsa was supposed to be a temporary stop when Moore came to attend graduate school at Oral Roberts University in 1999. However, 15 years later and with a résumé full of accomplishments, he has championed the advancement of numerous local causes. 

Prior to joining Meals on Wheels, Moore was the director of the Tulsa Community College Foundation and oversaw a $2.5 million capital campaign to build the Nate Waters Physical Therapy Clinic in downtown Tulsa. 

He is passionate about bringing a progressive business approach to traditional philanthropy endeavors.

“I’ve always loved the notion of helping not-for-profits take a more businesslike approach to their missions, because that’s really what’s going to help keep the mission strong,” Moore says.

The changing landscape of his clientele base, and the unprecedented rate with which it will occur will likely require innovative, expansive solutions. 

Meals on Wheels of Metro Tulsa President and CEO Calvin Moore

 

Another boom 

The overall population distribution is set to shift as baby boomers reach retirement age. One in five people in the U.S. are projected to be 65 or older by 2030, according to a report by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University.  

This will cause a multitude of challenges if communities don’t prepare.

Additionally, a 2013 report by AARP Public Policy Institute describes an impending shortage of relatives to care for elderly family members. 

As a consequence, an increasing percentage of older people will be forced to go into an expensive long-term facility, placing substantial financial drain on the health care system.

In their 2015 study, “More Than A Meal,” researchers at Brown University School for Public Health, in conjunction with the AARP Foundation, found that seniors remaining at home, out of hospitals and nursing homes, saves billions in Medicare and Medicaid costs. 

In some cases, the only reason the aged are forced to leave home is because they are unable to drive. Just having their meals delivered by a service like Meals on Wheels allows some elderly citizens to remain in their own homes.

 

Project 2020 

To prepare for these projected shifts, MOWMT issued a community-wide call to service. It is campaigning to increase volunteers, recipients and funds over the next five years at an unprecedented rate. In doing so, it hopes to stay ahead of the needs of the Tulsa area’s aging population.

By 2020, it hopes to achieve four objectives:

  1. Recruit 1,000 additional volunteers.
  2. Identify 2,500 new recipients.
  3. Raise $3.5 million per year.
  4. Deliver more than 1 million meals per year in the Tulsa metro area.

Though it was a collaborative effort, Board of Directors Chairman Trey Cooper believes the credit goes to one person.

“Our CEO and president, Calvin Moore, really deserves most of the credit for Project 2020,” Cooper says. “As a board, we knew there were more homebound neighbors living among us than we were currently serving. We wanted to do more. All of the elements of Project 2020 existed, but Calvin was the catalyst behind formalizing the vision and action plan.”

Although it will be a daunting task, Moore has a lot to be excited about. The initiative’s first year goals include delivering 250,000 meals and raising $1.5 million. He says MOWMT will exceed its goal of delivered meals by more than 20,000, and its annual event “Keep ‘Em Rolling Fundraising Gala” in October was the most successful to date, raising more than $358,000.

Fundraising is a vital component for Meals on Wheels because it does not receive any government funding. Every dollar it receives comes from the generosity of Tulsans.

“If you look at us on a national scale, we’re an anomaly,” Moore says. “Most Meals on Wheels actually take the majority of their dollars from government sources or public sources, and they’re scrambling now to generate that core competency of private fundraising because they don’t have it. They realize it’s a big mistake to not raise private dollars.”

    

Humble beginnings 

MOWMT was established in 1970 through the collaborative efforts of Tulsa Metropolitan Ministry and First Presbyterian Church, according to their websites. 

In the beginning, members of First Presbyterian Church of Tulsa prepared meals in the facility’s kitchen and delivered them to congregation members who were homebound or unable to cook for themselves. 

Soon the service was adopted by other churches, and a small network grew. Today, 15 churches in 14 service areas, called components, serve as pick-up locations.

“Our spirit to serve really comes out of the churches because that’s really where Meals on Wheels got started,” Moore says, adding that they are working to recruit more volunteers and service centers among corporate entities and civic groups.

Maggie Cornell has helped with Meals on Wheels at Harvard Avenue Christian Church for more than two decades. It all started when she saw a request in her church bulletin for Meals on Wheels volunteers, and she has served ever since. Cornell is now the coordinator for Meals on Wheels at the church and is secretary of MOWMT’s south side component.

She credits the recipients and volunteers for her longevity with the organization.

“You get attached to all of them,” she says. “I think they really do look forward to seeing us. And the volunteers we have here are absolutely wonderful.”

Pat Connery has been a MOWMT volunteer for 34 years. She has held a multitude of positions, including packer, driver and coordinator. She is one of the coordinators of the MOWMT midtown component. She values the friendships she has made over the years with fellow volunteers.

“You feel like you’ve developed real friends,” Connery says. “I guess it’s a two-way street. I feel I’m contributing something, but I’m also getting something just being with those people.”

 

Capturing their youth    

For more than 40 years, local church members from various congregations have been the predominant driving force behind MOWMT. 

However, as the senior population explodes, Moore believes it’s vital to redefine the organization’s objectives.

To avoid overburdening the core volunteer pool — whose average age is 72 — MOWMT has worked to attract additional groups to help with its mission and diversify its volunteers.

“One of the issues I knew we were facing coming in was that we just weren’t recruiting enough young people to be involved,” he says.

Fortunately, there are local schools likeUndercroft Montessori School who have incorporated service into their curriculum.

Amanda Wilmoth instructs fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders as an Upper Elementary Guide at Undercroft. She also regularly chaperones a group on its Meals on Wheels route.

She says the school aims to turn the entire experience into a learning opportunity, like discussing navigation, streets and other insights.

“They learn valuable lessons like the cycle of life, social skills, looking in people’s eyes when you speak, talking to different generations and how to lead with kindness and by example,” Wilmoth says. 

Undercroft Montessori School fourth-graders volunteer on a Meals on Wheels of Metro Tulsa route.

 

Service to others is an integral component of the Montessori curriculum. 

“Food, poverty and hunger are big themes in Upper Elementary,” Wilmoth says. “We want them to care for others and care for their community.”

Since each student serves on the route for three years, most have developed meaningful friendships with some of the recipients.

“We had one lady on our route, Miss Mary,” Wilmoth says. “She was really special. She lost her dog, so the kids and a former guide helped get her a new dog, dog toys and dog treats.

“And when she passed away, we had alumni that had graduated and gone on post on her memorial page. I think most of Undercroft posted on the memorial page for this woman.” 

Grayson Langham, a sixth-grader and team captain for his Meals on Wheels route, has enjoyed serving for the past three years.

“My favorite part about Meals on Wheels is helping people and giving them meals,” Langham says. “My favorite one, though, is the guy that tells us jokes.”

Evie Olson, a fourth-grader at Undercroft, is serving her first year on a route but has already learned some valuable lessons.

“I’ve learned about the grace and courtesy of elderly people and to help them,” Olson says. “And we’ve met a man without his leg, and sometimes he needs help, but he’s really nice and kind if you get to know him.”

“We tell them it’s not just about food, it’s about friendship,” Wilmoth says, “because we might be the only people the clients see all day.”

Undercroft Montessori fourth-graders visit with recipient  Rosalie “Frankie” Scott.

    

Expanding territories 

In December 2014, MOWMT expanded to residents in Bixby.

“Bixby was our first expansion in 30 years,” Moore says. “The reason is simply this: The need is growing, it’s burgeoning, it’s becoming bigger. We receive 30-35 calls a month from areas like Sand Springs, from people who want and need the service.”

Now, there are plans to expand to Sand Springs and Sapulpa next year. The organization already serves the suburbs of Owasso, Jenks, Glenpool and Broken Arrow, in addition to Tulsa. 

“Even though Bixby was our first expansion in 30 years, it will not take us another 30 years to expand anywhere else,” Moore says. 

While expanding geographically, MOWMT now addresses food insecurity for a younger demographic with Feed Our Future.

“Adolescents who experience food insecurity develop chronic health problems, which follow them into adulthood,” Moore says. “These problems severely affect them in their early senior years causing some to need services like Meals on Wheels at a much younger age than if they had not suffered from food insecurity.”

In November, Feed Our Future began as a high school adoption program that assists Tulsa Public Schools students who face persistent food insecurity. MOWMT’s goal is to serve 30,000 meals to more than 1,000 students over the course of each school year, according to the organization’s website.

 

Breakfast program    

In a survey conducted by MOWMT to determine their clients’ needs, 60 percent of recipients said the Meals on Wheels meal represented more than half of the food they consumed all day. Others reported it represented up to 90 percent of their food intake. Moore claims that statistic kept him up at night. 

The new Breakfast Initiative was introduced in the summer of 2015 by MOWMT. The organization plans to provide a nutritious second meal to all recipients by June 2016.

“We wanted a slow, methodical rollout just so we could absorb it in the budget, raise some additional funds and work out some of the kinks,” Moore says. “Anytime you make a change in the program, it impacts those 1,400 volunteers out there. 

“It has been a great rollout so far. The recipients just love it.” 

Longtime MOWMT advocate and volunteer Sandy Brooks echoes a similar sentiment.

“Getting to deliver meals on Tuesdays, I get to see the excitement as the recipients dig through their breakfast bag looking for their favorite breakfast cookies and fruit,” Brooks says. “It’s a program that’s needed for sure.”

 

 

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1212 E 45th Place
Tulsa, OK  74105
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Sponsor: Tulsa Ballet
Contact Name: Dan Meagher
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Young and old alike will love the cherished story of Alice and her friends performed through original and exciting dance choreography! "Project Alice" is based on Lewis Carroll's...

Cost: 15-20

Where:
Tulsa Performing Arts Center
110 E. 2nd St.
Tulsa, OK  74103
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Sponsor: Portico Dance Theatre
Telephone: 918-321-0682
Contact Name: Linda Davis
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Young and old alike will love the cherished story of Alice and her friends performed through original and exciting dance choreography!"Project Alice" is based on Lewis Carroll's “Alice's...

Cost: 15-20

Where:
Tulsa Performing Arts Center
110 E. 2nd St.
Tulsa, OK  74103
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Sponsor: Portico Dance Theatre
Telephone: 918-321-0682
Contact Name: Linda Davis
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In our 4-week Beginning Fencing class, you'll learn about the history of Olympic fencing, the three fencing weapons – foil, saber and epee – and the general rules for each of the specific...

Cost: $75

Where:
Southminster Presbyterian Church Community Center
3500 S Peoria
Tulsa, OK  74106
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Sponsor: Tulsa Fencing Club
Telephone: 918-928-2663
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Join us for the St. Jude Walk/Run during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in September, to raise money for the kids of St. Jude, where families never receive a bill for anything. Let's end...

Cost: $10

Where:
ONEOK FIELD
201 N Elgin Ave
Tulsa, OK  74120
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Telephone: 405-234-7095
Contact Name: Astrid Rodriguez
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Join us for the St. Jude Walk/Run during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in September, to raise money for the kids of St. Jude, where families never receive a bill for anything. Let's end...

Cost: 5K - $20; 1 mile - $10; Ages 5 and under – Free

Where:
ONEOK Field
201 N Elgin Ave
Tulsa, OK, OK  74120
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Sponsor: St. Jude
Telephone: 915-841-9154
Contact Name: Adrian Ordonez
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Featuring more than seventy works by French and European masters such as Degas, Manet, Monet, Rousseau and Van Gogh, this exhibition celebrates Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon’s extraordinary gift...

Cost: $15

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Drive
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
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Telephone: (405) 236-3100
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Woodland Hills Mall is excited to host Beauty Week, which is a unique way for the people in Tulsa to experience all the beauty that Woodland Hills Mall has to offer.  Participating retailers...

Cost: Free and open to the community

Where:
Woodland Hills Mall
7021 S Memorial Dr.
Tulsa, OK  74133
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Telephone: 713-224-9115
Contact Name: Woodland Hills Mall

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Celebrate the vital role eastern Oklahoma plays in the amazing Monarch butterfly migration! Join us for great activities and presentations including educational activities and crafts, tagging and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Turkey Mountain
6850 S Elwood Ave
Tulsa, OK  74132
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Sponsor: river parks
Telephone: 918-596-2008
Contact Name: Ryan Howell
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The Home Remodeling Showcase is the premier showcase of newly remodeled homes in Tulsa and the surrounding areas.  Presented by the Remodelers Council of the Home Builders Association of Greater...

Cost: 10

Where:
Spread throughout Metro Tulsa
, OK


Sponsor: Pella Windows of Oklahoma
Telephone: 918-663-5820
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Experience the sites, sounds and smells of Greece!  The best lil stop in OPA!homa - just off route 66. Live music, dancing, kids zone, Greek food and drink, delectable baked goods, Greek...

Cost: Adults $5/Kids Free

Where:
13th & Guthrie Ave
1222 S. Guthrie Ave

Tulsa, OK  74119
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Sponsor: Tulsa Greek Festival
Telephone: 918-583-2082
Contact Name: Tonya Boone
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Living Arts of Tulsa will present a multi-media exhibit of Jave Yoshimoto’s work. Intractable Chasm examines the refugee crisis in Greece, experienced firsthand by Yoshimoto when he...

Cost: Free

Where:
Living Arts of Tulsa
307 East Reconciliation Way
Tulsa, OK  74120
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Cost: FREE

Where:
Central Park Community Center
1500 South Main Street
Broken Arrow, OK  74012
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Telephone: 918-259-8437
Contact Name: Central Park Community Center

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Join us for our second annual Food Truck Frenzy on September 21, from 4-8 p.m., and taste a variety of delicious cuisines from food trucks located in our riverfront backyard. Families can enjoy...

Cost: Adults $17.95, Children 3yrs-12yrs $13.95 Military and Seniors(62+) $13.95

Where:
Oklahoma Aquarium
300 Aquarium Dr
Jenks, OK  74037
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Telephone: 918-528-1507
Contact Name: Liz Medrano
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Fundraising concert featuring popular Christian rock band Sanctus Real benefiting Circle of Care's three programs: state-wide foster care, transitional living for single mothers with children...

Cost: 20.00

Where:
Venue 68
6910 S. 101st E. Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74134
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Sponsor: Circle of Care
Telephone: 405-215-1400
Contact Name: Sarah Steffes
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Benefiting the Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club of Broken Arrow Cosplay contest and silent auction. Fan made 1966 Batmobile on display. Food provided by Charlies Chicken, Panera and drinks...

Cost: $10, 12 and under FREE

Where:
1400 W. Washington St.
Broken Arrow, OK  74012
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Telephone: 918-406-9341
Contact Name: Sean Henry
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Circle of Care and popular Christian Rock band Sanctus Real are teaming up on September 21, 2019, to raise funds for Circle of Care’s three nonprofit programs. Band member...

Cost: Tickets start at $20

Where:
Asbury United Methodist Church's Venue 68
6910 S. 101 E. Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74133
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America’s LARGEST interactive comedy murder mystery dinner show is now playing at the Hilton Garden Inn Tulsa Broken Arrow! At The Dinner Detective, you’ll tackle a challenging crime while you...

Cost: 59.95

Where:
Hilton Garden Inn Tulsa- Broken Arrow
420 W Albany St.
Broken Arrow, OK  74012
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Telephone: 866-496-0535
Contact Name: The Dinner Detective
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Get moved with Tulsa Ballet! Experience incredible works from the most in-demand choreographers in the world at Creations in Studio K. Tickets start at $25. Read all about the exciting pieces...

Cost: $25 - above

Where:
Tulsa Ballet - Studio K
1212 E 45th Place
Tulsa, OK  74105
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Sponsor: Tulsa Ballet
Contact Name: Dan Meagher
Website »

More information

Young and old alike will love the cherished story of Alice and her friends performed through original and exciting dance choreography! "Project Alice" is based on Lewis Carroll's...

Cost: 15-20

Where:
Tulsa Performing Arts Center
110 E. 2nd St.
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Sponsor: Portico Dance Theatre
Telephone: 918-321-0682
Contact Name: Linda Davis
Website »

More information

Young and old alike will love the cherished story of Alice and her friends performed through original and exciting dance choreography!"Project Alice" is based on Lewis Carroll's “Alice's...

Cost: 15-20

Where:
Tulsa Performing Arts Center
110 E. 2nd St.
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Sponsor: Portico Dance Theatre
Telephone: 918-321-0682
Contact Name: Linda Davis
Website »

More information

Whether you prefer Borg nanoprobes to Midichlorians, the Justice League to the Avengers, or Terminators to Daleks, don't let anyone force you into boldly going where no one has gone...

Cost: $8.00 ($4.00 for children under 12)

Where:
pH Community House
306 S Phoenix Ave
Tulsa, OK  74127
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Sponsor: Laughing Matter Improv
Contact Name: Jerry Henderson
Website »

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In our 4-week Beginning Fencing class, you'll learn about the history of Olympic fencing, the three fencing weapons – foil, saber and epee – and the general rules for each of the specific...

Cost: $75

Where:
Southminster Presbyterian Church Community Center
3500 S Peoria
Tulsa, OK  74106
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Fencing Club
Telephone: 918-928-2663
Website »

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Where:
Veterans Park
1811 S Boulder Park Dr
Tulsa, OK
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Get wined and dined at the first annual Tulsa Beer & Wine Festival. Stroll through our landscape gardens and treat your taste buds to exquisite food pairings with local and national craft...

Cost: TBD

Where:
Gathering Place Great Lawn
2650 S. John Williams Way E.
Tulsa, OK  74114
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