WHO WE ARE

Meals on Wheels Northeastern Illinois is a powerhouse movement of neighbors volunteering to deliver fresh, healthy and delicious meals to those who are unable to prepare their own food at home. We serve not only senior citizens with our popular meals but also people with physical or cognitive disabilities and those who need help during a specific medical situation like recovering from surgery.

We also provide meal support for seniors on fixed incomes who are struggling to pay for housing, medicine, and food. In fact, we help more than 60% of our clients with reduced fees for our services.

We take our commitment as the premier provider of nourishment and support services to the community seriously. Our focus is on the health, well-being, and independence of our clients.

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1 in 6 seniors…

Across the nation struggle to get the nutrition they need every day. In our neighborhood alone, that’s more than 10,000 people.

 

Back in 1968, the CEDA (Community and Economic Development Association) and a group of citizens of Cook County, Illinois noticed that many Evanston seniors were at risk of malnutrition because they were not able to cook or buy their own meals. This concerned group decided to do something about it, so they approached Sister Mary Alfreda Bracht, Chief Executive Officer of Saint Francis Hospital. She worked with the hospital’s kitchen to prepare meals that could be delivered to these seniors at home.

Volunteers were recruited, delivery routes were laid out, and Meals on Wheels Northeastern Illinois was born. The first deliveries went out in October 1968. Over the years, more residents and counties expressed the need for these prepared meal services. As our service area grew, so did the amount of volunteers we needed. From Wilmette to East Glenview, our momentum just keeps going. We added our Friendly Visit program in 2002 and our grocery shopping program in 2012 where volunteers shop for our clients.

 
 

We worked with photographer Chloe Burch, a student at DePaul University, to capture some of our real life clients. Along with coordinator and writer Sarah Gardner, we hope these portraits and descriptions help you get to know the many, varied faces of Meals on Wheels.

 
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John b.

John B. always greets you with a smile and a story from his fascinating life. He’s has had his own TV show on public access television, he’s traveled the country as a truck driver, and he’s done community service work with his local church for many years. But he says one of the most fulfilling jobs he ever had was working in the Chicago area with former prisoners to help with their reentry into regular life.

As a member of the Meals at Home Board of Directors, John is still active in his church today and enjoys spending time with his 21 grandchildren.

 
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Rosamund B.

Rosamund B. is 87 years old and lives in Wilmette. A loving mother to two daughters and a son, Rosamund was raised Jewish but has been practicing the Baha’i faith since the 1970s. She has taught others about her faith while on an excursion to Japan and has even been on a pilgrimage to Israel.

Rosamund is an extremely accomplished pianist who has been playing the piano since she was five years old. Passionate about performing, she has performed in many recitals and concerts and never got stage fright. She also composes her own music and has five CDs. She taught piano for 35 years. She says that she goes to a “different world” when she plays the piano and describes the feeling as “joy and exaltation.” Rosamund had a lifelong dream fulfilled when her music was played on WFMT on March 31, 2018.

 
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Yusef A.

Yusuf A. was born in Chicago and now resides in Evanston. Born as Freddie, he changed his name to Yusuf when he became Muslim. Although he converted back to Christianity later, he kept his name Yusuf.

Yusuf believes in treating others with kindness and respect. He is a generous person who enjoys listening and helping others. He says that ”listening is sometimes more important than talking.”

Yusuf believes in a higher power and is proud of the fact that he is no longer addicted to alcohol. He believes that “today is an opportunity to wake up and try to do better than yesterday.”

Yusuf speaks very highly about his experience with Meals on Wheels and says that the “volunteers who come are very friendly and I look forward to them coming as they could be doing something else.” He goes on to say that “Meals on Wheels makes my life much better; without their support, I wouldn’t be where I am in my recovery.”

 
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Joe y.

Joe Y. was born in East Chicago. He later lived in Griffin, Ind. until the age of 18 when he joined the Navy in 1969. He also served in the Marine Corps from 1980-1987.

Joe was born and raised Catholic. He enjoys studying the Bible and says he has, “Gotten close to God to stay alive.” Joe says the happiest time of his life was when his son was born. He is also very proud to be a grandfather to three children with fourth one on the way. Another wonderful part of Joe’s life is his dog, Bowie. Bowie is a Black Labrador rescue dog that Joe absolutely adores.

Joe appreciates the assistance he has received from Meals on Wheels and says that, “All the people are nice and they even bring treats for Bowie!”

 
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Lois M.

Lois M., the youngest of six children, was born on the south side of Chicago. She moved to Evanston when she was a teenager and attended Evanston Township High School.  

Lois loves talking to people and making others happy. One of her favorite volunteer experiences was at the children’s unit at the University of Chicago Hospital. For the past year, Lois has been working as a recruiter for a field work research time and she really enjoys it.  She also loves to go to church, work out at the Y, and knitting.

But as much as Lois loves being around others and getting out, she struggles with rheumatoid arthritis and bipolar disorder. She has been a Meals on Wheels client for 17 years, and it really helps her manage day to day life. Lois’ favorite memories are of traveling to Paris and London with her sister, and she hopes to continue her travels in the future.



 

Our Team

 
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Debi Genthe, Executive Director

Debi has displayed a passion for her clients and volunteer care throughout her career. She was the Executive Director of Interfaith Caregivers of Washington County, Wisc., a start-up non-profit network of volunteers that grew to serve more than 1,200 seniors a year with transportation, food services, and other chores like shoveling snow. Before that, she worked with the American Heart Association as an Area Director and as a Fundraising Specialist.

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JENNIFER SHREVE, DEVELOPMENT COORDINATOR

Jennifer has worked in development for a variety of non-profits and supported many missions, including financial education, community solar, social services, and housing. She spent 11 years with the national office of Rebuilding Together in Washington, DC. She is excited to be living and working in Evanston with Meals on Wheels NEI and meeting everyone in this wonderful community.

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MATTI MORAN, VOLUNTEER COORDINATOR

Matti Moran is a recent graduate of Loyola University and has worked with various local businesses as a Web Designer and Web Developer. She has experience working with underprivileged women in the Chicago area, but has a passion for working with older adults. She is excited to be a part of Meals on Wheels NEI and loves interacting with the volunteers on a daily basis and speaking with clients.

 
 
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DELANE HARO, program COORDINATOR

Delane Haro recently joined the Meals on Wheels NEI team, and she enjoys her daily contact with the organization’s clients. She previously worked for Aim High in Chicago, coordinating programs for low-income high school and college students. She spent seven years working for the Department of Music at Stanford University, doing project management, PR, and marketing for concerts, festivals and series. She is passionate about the work she does at Meals on Wheels NEI and has done volunteer work for other nonprofits in her community, including Connections for the Homeless and Interfaith Action of Evanston.

 
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SAM LANDMAN, FOOD SERVICE DIRECOR

Sam Landman learned cooking at the side of a master chef from Johnson and Wales University culinary school. Sam comes to MOW NEI with more than a decade of experience in the senior healthcare field. He has been involved in everything food service related from menu engineering and cooking to budget and inventory control. He most recently led food service efforts at Bridgeway Senior Living in Bensenville, IL, was chef at Park Plaza Retirement Center in Chicago, and executive kosher chef for Aramark at the University of Chicago.

 

Our Board of Directors

 

Our Board of Directors is a group comprised of people in our local community who care deeply about the well-being and happiness of their neighbors. Our diverse, eclectic mix of volunteers work hard to make sure everyone who needs it has a hot meal.

Thekla Metz, President

Warren Lupel, Past President

Carolyn Haack, Treasurer

John Barner, Director

Skip Frost, Director

Cherylette Hilton, Director

Joan Kerr, Director

Joseph Orefice, Director

T. Karen Parsons, Director

Robert Roth, Director

Emily Sharpe, Director

Danny Williamson, Director

Jonathan Loew, Director