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Council on Aging honors volunteers
Meals on Wheels supervisor receives Lifetime Service Award
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Kay Kunzer looks at her raffle ticket at the Council on Aging's volunteer luncheon Friday afternoon. Kunzer and other volunteers were honored at the luncheon for their dedication to programs like Meals on Wheels. - photo by HAILEY VAN PARYS

Out of the nearly 250 volunteers honored at the Council on Aging’s volunteer luncheon, one man walked away with the Lifetime Service Award.

Milon Christman III acted as supervisor for the Meals on Wheels program for more than a decade, while the council itself has been around for two decades.

“For the first 22 years of my life, I worked for my wallet. For the last 14, I have worked for my heart,” Christman said. “These past few years have made me a richer man.”

Christman said it was an honor working with Meals on Wheels and that he especially wanted to thank the staff he worked with for so many years.

“It’s like Brunswick stew — you love the idea, but no one wants to know what goes into it,” Christman said.

The program itself is designed to help feed the frail and elderly in the community. Phillippa Lewis Moss, the Community Service Center’s director and an administrative director for the Council on Aging, said around 400 meals are delivered to senior citizens daily within the Gainesville and Hall County communities.

The website also breaks down the costs for the program just for lunches — $17 for one person for one week, $68 pays for one person per month, $200 provides lunch for one person per quarter, and $800 provides for one person for a year.

For more information about Meal on Wheels or to volunteer,  contact Stepheine Hood at shood@gainesville.org or call 770-503-3330.

“The goal (of the programs) is to keep them safely housed in their homes for as long as possible,” Lewis Moss said. “It is for those people who just need a little bit of help. We want them to maintain their independence and their dignity.”

According to gainesville.org, the Monday through Friday schedule means that for some seniors, this daily visit may be the only social interaction they have during the day.

Christman has hung up his apron for the time being as of September, but insisted he would still be around once in a while.

“It’s not a goodbye from me,” he said. “I’m still volunteering, one or two times a week.”

Other special honorees of the afternoon included the Senior Life Center’s Volunteer of the Year Bertha Martin.

“We like to acknowledge them once a year for the work they’ve done,” Hood said. “As well as the local organizations and businesses that allow us to continue what we do.”

The center is nationally certified and is open to anyone over 60 years old, according to the official Gainesville website. There is also a cardio fitness room, weekly exercise classes, blood pressure screenings and a lunch provided.

For more information about the Senior Life Center, call 770-503-3331 or email seniorlifecenter@gainesville.org.

Dot Harwell won the Reassurance Telephone organization’s Volunteer of the Year with a few tears as she stood and walked to the podium to collect her award.

“I’ve heard from many of our clients how much she means to them,” said Hood, the senior services compliance officer with the Council on Aging.

The Reassurance Telephone organization works to call senior citizens every day just to check up on them.

“We call them every day. Just things like how they are, like a check-in,” Lewis Moss said.

Meal on Wheel’s Volunteer of the Year was Grace Tappan.

“(Tappan) is always there,” Hood said.

Around 100 raffle items were also given out during the ceremony.

The Times was also honored at the ceremony. Since the beginning of the newspaper’s involvement, 1.2 million newspapers have been donated.

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