David “Dave” Pierce never expected to be stopped in his tracks by the site of a fellow student with blonde hair and the sweetest southern accent he had ever heard…but it happened. It’s a memory as clear to him today as it was when he stood in line on registration day at Appalachian State University in 1954. After she walked away that day, Dave knew he needed to find out who she was and eventually, he did. After Dave officially met and introduced himself to Jane, it took several requests before she agreed to go out with him. Now, after 67 years of marriage, 3 children, and 9 grandchildren, Dave and Jane Pierce sit in their cozy living room, as in love today as they were when Jane’s father married them in 1956.
Although their relationship has remained strong, the Pierces have faced increasing challenges in recent years as a result of declining health and medical complications which have made everyday tasks like preparing food difficult and sometimes even dangerous. In 2022, the Pierces’ daughter began to recognize the signs and reached out to the Senior Services Meals-on-Wheels program. She knew that we would be able to help provide her parents with the nutritional support they needed to remain in their home safely. Little did the Pierces know when they started the program that they would go on to receive much more than just a meal.
Dave first began receiving meals in March of 2022, while Jane was very sick in the hospital, “I was [at home]…alone and starving,” remembered Dave. Jane added, “With [Dave’s] balance we were worried that he might fall, so we needed some food.” Like many older adults in our community, Dave not only needed the meal itself but the human connection that came along with the delivery. During that time he was home alone and worried about his wife, so when a volunteer knocked on his door to drop off that first meal he got the chance to interact with someone. Each day the meals kept coming, along with the opportunity to engage with others. Dave appreciated the volunteers’ company and kindness and often asked them to pray for his wife’s recovery. In Dave’s words, “Meals-on-Wheels kept me alive.”
When Jane came back home she also became a Meals-on-Wheels participant. She and her husband looked forward to sharing those meals and growing friendships with the volunteers who checked in on them. As they were used to being active community and church members it was a tough transition when the Pierces could no longer leave their home, they felt like they were losing touch with those around them. Meals-on-Wheels volunteers were able to help them feel connected again. “The people that deliver [the meals] make you feel good…Dave will fight almost anyone to go to the door to talk to them,” Jane laughed.
When asked about their experience with the hot meals Dave said, “The biggest thing is that we get vegetables.” According to research conducted by Age-Friendly Forsyth, most aging adults in our county are facing wellness-related challenges such as not consuming enough fruits and vegetables, so every meal served is making sure to address those needs. In fact, 98% of Meals-on-Wheels participants feel that the program has helped them eat healthier.
The Pierces not only showed appreciation for the volunteers but also for each other. “[Jane] has been a blessing in so many ways,” Dave said while holding Jane’s hand. Jane responded, “[Dave] is genuinely kind and has a good heart…we have had a happy life.”
The story of Jane and Dave is a testament to the power of human connection. Meals-on-Wheels is more than just a meal. It is a lifeline that helps older adults maintain their independence, dignity, and quality of life.
“It’s been a blessing to get Meals-on-Wheels.” -Dave