At Senior Services we know that Meals-on-Wheels volunteers provide much more than a meal. Each delivery provides a moment of human connection that many recipients cherish more than the meal itself. Grace Pfleger volunteered with the Meals-on-Wheels program during her first year of college at UNC School of the Arts (UNCSA), and took things a step further when she decided to deliver music as well! Grace took a few moments to reflect on her experience of volunteering with Meals-on-Wheels as she prepared to end her semester.
“I’ve always had a passion for working with the elderly, so I was looking for ways to get connected with the aging population in Forsyth County.” Rebecca Nussbaum, Director of Career Development & Community Engagement at UNC School of the Arts connected her with Melissa Smith, the Director of Innovation and Initiatives at Senior Services, and together they found a great fit for Grace with Meals-on-Wheels. Every Thursday morning, Grace woke up at 7:30 and headed over to Senior Services where she would meet up with other volunteers in the Meals-on-Wheels pick up room. Together, they drove out to an apartment complex to deliver meals. Grace, with her portable boom box put the training she’s receiving at the School of the Arts to good use. She sang a song for each recipient, choosing from a variety of music each week, from Michael Jackson to classical opera. She was a hit—the seniors on her route couldn’t get enough of Grace’s voice!
For Grace, this opportunity was “an answer to a calling.” Since the beginning of her time at UNCSA, she says she has been looking for a way to combine her two loves for music and helping elders. Music, she says, is so much more than just entertainment, it’s a healing art. Likewise, she wanted to do more than just perform. “Doing this just makes my life. I feel like I have a lot of purpose, something to wake up to every morning.”
Grace wants to encourage those with artistic talents, especially young adults with the time and ability to get around, to take their art out into the community. “We’re really lucky in the fact that we have our cars and we can go out, get art whenever we want, and create art wherever we want.” Meals-on-Wheels, she says, is just one of many opportunities at Senior Services to help the homebound elderly by sharing your gifts and talents. Grace says that the people she has met through Senior Services are some of the most kind and generous people she knows, and is amazed by everyone who takes time out of their lives to make a difference for these older adults.
Inspired by her Meals-on-Wheels experience, Grace put together an ensemble of musicians, including a guitarist, pianist, clarinetist, and herself. Before the semester’s end, they were able to visit a number of retirement homes to share their music. Grace recently received a UNCSA Artist Fellowship to continue her work of using music and voice to help others in the Winston-Salem community in the coming years. We are excited to see Grace continue on this rewarding path of giving meaning to her own voice and bringing beautiful music into the lives of local seniors.