Melanee Mills is determined to make a positive impact on her community—especially on the lives of older adults. Fortunately, she works for a company that wants to do the same. Mills, is the Health Careers and Workforce Diversity Coordinator at Northwest Area Health Education Center (NWAHEC). It’s a division of Wake forest School of Medicine which strives to provide a competent health care workforce at all professional levels. She and her company are also long-time Senior Services supporters. In addition to her regular job duties that include working with high school and college students who are interested in pursuing careers in the health care field, she serves as the NWAHEC volunteer coordinator to Senior Services.
In that role she works to keep the NWAHEC staff informed of volunteer and giving opportunities for the organization. One of her favorite volunteer activities is delivering Meals-on-Wheels for Senior Services. “Volunteering has always been a part of my life! I’ve always felt the need to give back and serve others. My mission in life is reach one—teach one—improving everything going on in front of you, and helping others,” said Mills.
She understands the value of Senior Services from personal experience. “I became familiar with Senior Services when my mother became ill. We needed assistance and began using Meals-on-Wheels and later added other services.” During her mother’s illness she often found that she knew many of the volunteers who delivered to her mother and she really enjoyed the conversations she had about the program and their dedication to volunteering. That is when she saw firsthand the growing needs of older adults in this community. It stoked her desire to get involved, and she signed up to deliver meals herself. Mills continues delivering meals (with her coworkers and individually) today. “It was a no brainer; I wanted to help and make an impact by giving of my time. When you volunteer you are serving seniors like your parents, your grandparents, aunts, other family members and friends.” This is the motivating thought that keeps her going.
That motivation to help seniors is shared by her colleagues. The NWAHEC Meals-on-Wheels team delivers along the “Salem” route, twice per month. The delivery team of 12 employees take turns and deliver in pairs. “We use it as a team building activity, allowing staff to get to know each other while learning about the needs and health of the community. Delivering a Meals-on-Wheels route as an organization doesn’t take a lot of time from work since we take turns and deliver meals during our lunch hour,” said Mills. For the NWAHEC team, it works out that each team member actually only runs the route once every few months. NWAHEC has been involved with Senior Services for many years volunteering with Meals-on-Wheels and contributing to their annual Christmas in July and Remember in December item drives, too.
It is important to her and her coworkers to support the aging community in Forsyth County and to help older adults as they maneuver through their daily lives. “So many seniors are not fortunate enough to have resources and/or family to support them in this stage of their life. It’s important to have organizations like Senior Services to fill the gaps.”
Her advice to other companies thinking of getting involved with Senior Services would be, “Make that step. Get involved and get your staff involved. Senior Services is a group of good people to work with. You get answers to your calls, people are pleasant, they’re willing to help. They calm your fears and make it a comfortable situation. There is no better place to serve and get your needs met as a volunteer, or as senior in need of help.” Melanee Mills and her colleagues at Northwest Area Health Education Center have banded together as coworkers and friends to improve the lives of hundreds of seniors enrolled in Senior Services’ Meals-on-Wheels program. There is still much to be done and many older adults in need of assistance. Senior Services invites local businesses, faith communities, and civic groups to get involved in helping seniors to remain at home, aging with dignity and living with purpose. To find out how your group can assist contact Britnee Tellez at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 336-721-3411.