Mayor brings food, friendly face to elderly

Staff writer

Vicki Melcher’s eyes lit up when she saw Mayor Mary Olson carrying her lunch.

“Yesterday’s meal was out of this world,” she said as Olson opened the elderly woman’s container of milk.

Melcher was one of 11 Marion residents (60 years or better) who received a meal and a handshake or a hug from the mayor — and an explanation from their regular volunteer Dorothy Conyers.

The North Central-Flint Hills Area Agency on Aging had dubbed Thursday “Mayors for Meals Day,” allowing the mayor an opportunity to work with the Marion Senior Center to bring food to residents’ doorstep. Many seemed to be surprised to see her in their house, but warmly welcomed her and invited her to come back another time.

However, some, like Merrill Branson, surprised Mayor Olson with their greeting.

“I wasn’t expecting a woman,” he said as he opened the door for them to enter. “Mayors deal with a lot — some women just can’t handle it.”

In lighthearted response, Olson put her left pointer finger in the handicapped man’s chest, explaining that she was fully capable of doing her job. After a few more laughs, the group left the Branson home with smiles on their faces, knowing that the couple would have a good meal to eat at noon.

While traveling between locations, Conyers did her best to answer the mayor’s questions about her involvement in the meals-on-wheels program, giving her greater insight into the local meals-on-wheels program. Conyers said she usually does her route alone — something she hasn’t always done, but doesn’t mind.

“It really doesn’t take two people,” she said. “If you have more than one person, someone is out in the car waiting for the person inside to be finished. I don’t like to do that. I can’t talk to them that way.”

Conyers said it was the interaction with the people that made her job enjoyable. She said she usually spends time talking with each resident and seeing if they have any needs. Some, she said, have issues that need attending. Others, like Elsie Reiswig, she said, just need someone to talk with.

Reiswig greeted both women with a partial hug before running to her dining room to grab a bowl of colorful jellybeans.

“You’ve got to have a treat,” she said, encouraging both women to take a handful to enjoy. “They’re left over from making the plastic eggs. I had to make a couple up for the church. They’re going to have an Easter egg hunt and we have to have enough to hide.”

After a few moments of conversation, the group left to deliver more meals — but the memory of the visit still lingered.

“She’s the sweetest woman you’ll ever meet,” Conyers said. “She always has a treat for me. The other day she had the best thing: cheese between two graham crackers.”

Olson said she was impressed with Conyers’ knowledge of each resident, and the time she took to take care of their other needs — like taking out the garbage.

“I’ve never seen them just leave the food here in Marion,” Olson said. “They’ve always spent time with the people.”

 

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