By Joel Hall
Before this month, about 45 homebound seniors in the county were on a waiting list to receive complimentary hot meals from Meals On Wheels, an arm of the Clayton County Aging Program.
Those seniors will no longer have to wait as a result of a $20,000 grant from the Mary Allen Lindsey Branan Foundation.
The competitive grant, administered once a year to a deserving philanthropic agency in Georgia, will help the county's aging program purchase hot meals for seniors who are unable to prepare meals for themselves.
"A lot of people think Meals On Wheels is a federal program, but it's not," said Mike Twomey, chairman of the Clayton County Aging Program Advisory Board. "We do all of the fund-raising for Meals On Wheels. We get very little county funding.
The meals, assembled at the Clayton County Jail, and purchased for $2.54 each, are delivered by volunteers to about 250 non-ambulatory seniors in the county once a day, Monday through Friday. Twomey said the grant will provide the aging program with the financial backing to ensure more county seniors are eating at least one nutritional meal per day.
"[Meals On Wheels] literally feeds our elderly population that is homebound," said Twomey. "We should never have a waiting list. Grants like these eliminate that."
Tamara Patridge, assistant vice president of Wachovia Nonprofit and Philanthropic Services, the group which administers the grant, said the aging program beat out hundreds of other applicants from around the state for the grant.
"They are doing a great service for the citizens of Clayton County through this program," said Patridge. "If there was any way through this grant that we could help them, we wanted to do that."
Named after a deceased Atlanta resident and long-time Wachovia Bank customer with "extreme charitable intent," the Mary Allen Lindsey Branan Foundation only awards grants to charitable programs which prove their merit, Patridge said.
"It is need-based, so we take everything into consideration," said Patridge. "Had we not felt that [it was deserved], we would have not awarded them the money."
"We were really proud," said Twomey. "They have very stringent guidelines. It was a significant win to us.
"It makes a very significant impact ... the most significant impact that we've ever had," said Twomey. "It should end the waiting list for the last fiscal year."