For 12 years, Wanda Harmon has made a difference in the lives of neighborhood residents. As a volunteer for the Visiting Nurse Association’s Meals on Wheels program, Harmon delivers lunches weekly to homebound elderly and disabled individuals.

Every Wednesday, she arrives at First Community Congregational Church on Mockingbird to pick up the prepared, hot meals. Then she drives “her route,” delivering meals to about 15 clients who live in our neighborhood. Often, husband Bill accompanies her.

Throughout Dallas County, Meals on Wheels volunteers deliver hot lunches weekdays to 2,700 clients. Gayle Collins, volunteer coordinator for Meals on Wheels, says she appreciates Harmon for her service and compassion.

“Wanda has a high regard and a deep affection for our clients,” Collins says. “She treats our clients like the special people they are.”

Harmon is a volunteer who does more than what is asked.

“I’ve mowed lawns, taken clients to the doctor and picked up medication from the pharmacy,” Harmon says. She helped one client organize a garage sale and “adopted” one couple in their 90s as her own.

“For many of the people we help, we’re the only people they see all day long,” Harmon says. “I can’t just knock on the door and leave. If they need help, I’ve got to help.”

“You get back so much more than you give as a volunteer. The people are so grateful that you care. If everyone would just take one day and try volunteering for Meals on Wheels, they would be blessed.”

Harmon learned of Meals on Wheels in 1982 from a television commercial. She had been a hospital volunteer for 10 years and was ready to try something different.

“God has been so good to me and my family,” Harmon says. “I want to give back and share with those who may be down and out.”

The clients of VNA are unable to prepare their own meals. For many of them, Meals on Wheels is their only source of food. Other clients have only one other meal per day, usually cereal and milk.

Meals on Wheels has been available in Dallas since 1957 and has been provided by the Visiting Nurse Association since 1973. Currently, 3,700 volunteers deliver meals at least once a month.

VNA needs 2,000 more volunteers to meet demand. Volunteers can pick up meals from 20 sites, including First Community Church, Lakeview Christian Church in the White Rock area and First Presbyterian Church in Garland.

Volunteers are asked to drive a route once a week, delivering lunch for 15 to 18 individuals. Collins says that the average route can be completed in two hours.

The agency also needs volunteers who can deliver meals on Thanksgiving Day, the day after Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

Volunteers also can help by packaging and wrapping gifts for VNA’s Meals on Wheels clients. VNA is hosting holiday open houses Dec. 14-15 at Spring Valley United Methodist Church. Individuals can bring their own wrapping paper, scissors and tape, and enjoy a few hours playing “Santa’s elves.”

For information about Meals on Wheels, call the Volunteer Center of Dallas at 826-6767.