Continuing its 50th anniversary year of serving homebound Rhode Island seniors, Meals on Wheels of RI today delivered its 19th million home-delivered meal.
“This is an incredible day for Meals on Wheels of RI and for the thousands of homebound Rhode Islanders we serve every day across the entire state,” said Meals on Wheels of RI Executive Director Meghan Grady. “As we look toward our agency’s future, we remain forever grateful to all of our supporters, volunteers, board members and team members who have made this 19th million meal possible.”
Grady and Rhode Island Office of Healthy Aging Director Rose Amoros Jones delivered the milestone meal to homebound Cranston senior Joseph Brisson, an 88-year-old widower and Korean War veteran who lives with Alzheimer’s.
“For 50 years, Meals on Wheels has been providing an invaluable service to our state, and our neighbors,” Jones said. “Access to healthful food is a very real challenge for many Rhode Islanders. We must remain vigilant in our work to tackle food insecurity, and Meals on Wheels of RI, their staff and volunteers are important partners in that mission.”
Brisson has been receiving Meals on Wheels of RI home-delivered meals for two years. A lifelong Rhode Islander, he met his late wife, Rosemarie, at a social at St. Charles Church in Providence—where he still attends services—and the couple was married for 55 years.
After serving his country, he worked for more than 25 years as manager of the paint department of Bulova Watches.
Together, the Brissons raised two children. He also has four grandchildren and a two-year-old great-granddaughter. While he receives some assistance from his daughter, he is not able to safely leave his home on his own or prepare his own meals.
Grady and Jones were joined by Meals on Wheels of RI Board Chair Kevin Millonzi, owner of Millonzi Fine Catering and Millonzi’s Kitchen Bar.
“It is an everyday honor to serve in support of our state’s most vulnerable residents, and to meet those whose lives we are working tirelessly to improve,” Millonzi said. “As we continue to mark our 50th year of providing programs that greatly reduce homebound seniors’ hunger and isolation, we are committed to helping more seniors like Mr. Brisson stay healthy and safe in their own homes.”
Joseph Brown (1924-2014) founded Meals on Wheels of RI in February 1969, serving just 17 seniors on a single route through Providence with the help of a small group of volunteers. As the agency’s executive director over the next 22 years, he grew Meals on Wheels of RI to become Rhode Island’s only statewide home-delivered meal program that today serves nearly 1,200 seniors each weekday.
Since its inception, the agency has become much more than a meal, providing a vital safety check and much-needed socialization with each delivered meal, and offering a Capital City Café Program, Senior Restaurant Program, Pet Food Program and Senior Wish Program.