Being a Good Neighbor is second nature to Dan Mann.
For 24 years, the Winter Haven, Florida, State Farm agent has been volunteering with Meals on Wheels of Polk County, delivering nutritious, made-from-scratch meals to the elderly and those in need, and serving on its board of directors. But as Dan points out, there’s so much more to it.
“Almost all of these people are living alone,” said Dan. “It’s an opportunity not only to deliver a meal, but to do a wellness check to make sure that they look and sound OK.”
On a typical 18-meal delivery route, Dan offers to assist his recipients in many ways, from bringing in the mail to picking up something at the store.
“Many of these people simply appreciate the joy of a 10 minute visit,” Dan remarked. “It always helps me center back to what’s important in life.”
For recipients like Harvey Curtis, volunteers like Dan make a huge difference.
“Receiving Meals on Wheels helps me to live in my home. I am not able to shop for groceries or stand in the kitchen to prepare my meals,” said Harvey. “The volunteers are so friendly and some days, they are the only people I see and talk to.”
Unsurprisingly, the demand for Meals on Wheels services has increased markedly since the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
“It’s been a crazy time. Our meal count has gone from 300 to 450 a day,” said Dan. “And we make sure to follow all of the safety guidelines to ensure our recipients stay healthy.”
“Dan is a lifesaver for us,” said Susan Eldridge, executive director of Meals on Wheels of Polk County. “He’s very passionate about helping the people we serve.”
And Dan has made sure to pass on the importance of giving back to the next generation.
“My kids have grown up volunteering with me,” he said. “I would tell anyone interested in community service that you can truly make a difference and you always get back so much more than what you put in.”