SUMMIT, NJ - Three local police chiefs, including Robert Weck from Summit and Anthony Buccelli from New Providence, took part in Meals On Wheels’ “Community Champions Week” to raise awareness for senior hunger. Weck, Buccelli, and Springfield's John Cook, gathered together at SAGE Eldercare to participate in this event, and delivered meals to residents in their respective towns.
“It is vitally important to the older adults in our communities that law enforcement officials are aware of their circumstances on an individual basis, as well as a whole group,” stated Marianne Kranz, director of Meals On Wheels for SAGE. “The relationship and communication between local police departments and a community-based organization such as SAGE is critical so that older residents are looked after and protected. The annual “March For Meals” campaign established by the Meals On Wheels national organization provides a great opportunity for us to enlist the help of local officials so that they can check in on our elderly residents, if only for an hour or two each year.”
In addition to local police chiefs, SAGE has enlisted the involvement of several Union County Chosen Freeholders, local fire chiefs, town clerks, town administrators and council members, as well as a state senator and representatives from US congressional offices, to spend an hour and half of their time to deliver meals to local residents this month. “It is vital for these decision-makers within the communities we serve to have an understanding of the homebound seniors in their towns – often times, our volunteers are the only people checking in on them,” added Kranz.
About 15 times a year, SAGE has to turn to the police to do welfare checks on clients who don’t respond, and about five times a year, a SAGE Meals On Wheels volunteer calls 911 when finding a client in need of immediate professional and/or medical assistance.
“Not only does SAGE rely on us to check on the safety and wellness of our older residents, but we also rely on SAGE’s professional staff when we find someone who needs their assistance and services. Our partnership ensures that seniors in the area are getting the help they need,” noted Summit Police Chief Robert Weck.
In addition to calling on the police department, SAGE also relies on the help of the fire department to check on clients and residents that are of concern. Earlier this month, Summit Fire Chief Joseph Houck delivered meals to a resident along with a regular volunteer. There were concerns about the safety of the structure, so Houck did a quick check, and immediately sent a crew over to replace smoke detectors, remove stacks of newspapers near the fireplace, and check on the water heater.