Bill Zekas, Moretown, has been driving for Meals On Wheels for a little over four years and began serving on the board of the Mad River Valley Senior Citizens three years ago.
“My wife, Sue, got me into it. She signed us both up and it turned out I had more available time. So I drive the same route every Monday and if somebody needs a sub, an email goes out to potential drivers,” Zekas said.
“When you do this, I feel like I did a good thing today, that I served a need. It feels better than getting something done around the house!” he joked.
The regular drivers get to know their clients and begin to look out for them. Some want to chat when their meals arrive and others want to eat their lunches. All are glad to see the drivers, he said.
“Some of our clients are older and we’re delivering food, but also looking to see how they’re doing and if there are any needs that are significant, such as propane being low,” Zekas said.
He drives on Mondays and is seeing clients who other drivers have not seen since Friday. Meals On Wheels drivers deliver meals five days a week and the Friday delivery includes two frozen meals for the weekend.
Locally, with the help of 65 volunteers, Meals On Wheels delivers 140,000 free meals annually with a budget of $147,000.
Zekas said that the regular drivers are in contact with each other throughout the week and it’s not unusual for drivers of a particular route to have a meal or a drink together.
“It’s a community of drivers. Five of us have the same route and we’re looking out for everyone on that route and if one or some of us are worried about a particular person, one of the drivers may go there on the weekend or check in with the neighbors. It’s a really caring group,” he added.
He said a typical route might have seven or eight stops. His routes have carried from four to 10 stops. Once drivers leave the kitchen at Evergreen Place in Waitsfield, the deliveries take between 75 to 90 minutes.
The Zekas have lived full time in Moretown for almost five years and they owned their home there a few years prior to becoming full-time residents. This is their third stint in Vermont.
They moved to the Rutland area around 1980 and Bill was transferred to California for a while. They returned to Vermont and lived near Manchester for 12 years before getting transferred to Connecticut where they lived for 20 years.
“We kept vacationing in Vermont during this time and started thinking about where we’d want to retire. We found our house in 2015 and moved here full time in 2018.
He and his wife are both retired now. He worked in financial management as a CPA for nonprofits. His wife worked in development and computer programming. In retirement Bill Zekas volunteers as a Meals On Wheels driver and serves on the senior board where he’s the treasurer. He is also on the board of the Mad River Valley Health Center where he’s treasurer. His wife serves on the Mad River Path board and is a hospice volunteer for Central Vermont Home Health and Hospice.