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Meals on Wheels volunteer has been on the road for 40 years

Retiree Bonnie Douglass began the deliveries to seniors when she was in her 30′s
Published May 1, 2020

ST. PETERSBURG — Bonnie Douglass is marking her 40th year as a volunteer for Meals on Wheels, the program that delivers meals to those over 60.

The retired city of St. Petersburg employee was in her early 30s when she began volunteering to take meals to seniors in their homes. In four decades, she took a break for just six months.

“You meet some lovely people,” she said. “There’s a need for the services and you are not only delivering a meal, you are checking on them and you develop with some people a friendship.”

Douglass believes in the program. “It’s a way of people remaining independent as long as they can, and this program helps them to achieve that,” she said. Her Friday route of 12 stops takes about an hour and a half, she said.

Susan McIntyre, development director for the Neighborly Care Network, which runs the Meals on Wheels program, said the number of people relying on delivered meals climbed in recent weeks as congregate dining sites closed because of the coronavirus pandemic. Data from two weeks ago show that about 1,500 people were part of the Meals on Wheels program in Pinellas County. There are close to 600 volunteers in the county. For many people, a Meals on Wheels volunteer might be the only person they see that day, McIntyre said.

“Bonnie has been so faithful," she said. "She keeps showing up with good cheer and good energy. If you can see one person a day, Bonnie is that person.”