Matt Jackson
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A Meals On Wheels volunteer waits to deliver a meal in this file photo taken in Charleston, W.Va.

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Sue Cliatt and her husband, Ed, have been volunteering for Silver Key since the nonprofit started delivering Meals on Wheels to seniors in the Tri-Lakes area in October 2014.

Silver Key has for decades been delivering hot, nutritious meals to homebound low-income older adults coping with hunger and isolation in the Pikes Peak region, but only in recent years has the program expanded to include Monument and Palmer Lake.

Sue Cliatt, who’s retired after working for Tri-Lakes Cares for two decades, has donated her time these past five years as volunteer coordinator for the Tri-Lakes area, making sure there are drivers to bring meals out to a dozen or so clients in Monument and Palmer Lake on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

“I’m in need of some drivers,” Cliatt said. “It’s really a very easy job. The route is probably five or six miles, plus the miles from the volunteer’s house. It doesn’t take much time,” she said.

Volunteers offer a friendly visit and meal and also check on the clients, who may not have much other outside contact.

“You have to like people to do it. Some people just take the meal. Then there are some who want to talk for a bit,” Cliatt said. “I’d have to say it’s very rewarding, and fun.”

Recently one of the drivers resigned, leaving a gap in Sue’s schedule. Substitute drivers come and go, and she found herself having to get behind the wheel to make some deliveries last week.

“Normally I don’t drive that often so I don’t do the delivering. Often I’ve had some good volunteers so I don’t have to. Now, all the sudden, my Monday volunteer is unable to continue so I need some subs,” she said. “Volunteers can have a particular day or no particular commitment.”

Most volunteer drivers are retired. Summer can be a tough time to fill the schedule as people go on vacation. Cliatt is looking for volunteers to drive or substitute when others go on vacation.

“We deliver two meals with each stop, so if we’re delivering on a Wednesday the client also gets a meal for Thursday,” she said. “On Fridays they get one meal for that day and one for the weekend.”

A recent meal included turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, mixed vegetables and “a sack with cold things in it, like pineapple, small salads, milk and cookies — just some basics,” she said.

The program is government funded under the Older Americans Act through the Area Agency on Aging. Some clients pay a modest fee for the lunches while others who cannot afford to pay are subsidized through grants or donations. The lunches cost a little over $2 apiece but no eligible person is denied a meal.

For clients who live in the Fountain, Security, Widefield, Calhan, or Palmer Lake areas, meals may be funded by the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments/Area Agency on Aging.

If you would like to become a Meals on Wheels client, you must be 60 or older. Contact Silver Key to arrange for a new client assessment by phone at 884-2370 or email nutrition@silverkey.org.

If you’d like to become a volunteer in the Tri-Lakes area, contact Sue Cliatt at 481-3175. Those who apply will be asked to fill out an application and will be subject to a routine background check. Volunteer drivers must be at least 18 years old, have their own vehicle, proof of insurance and valid driver’s license. Learn more at silverkey.org.

Editor, Pikes Peak Newspapers

In June 2019, Michelle became editor of the four Pikes Peak Newspapers: Pikes Peak Courier; The Tribune; and the Cheyenne and Woodmen editions. A Penn State journalism graduate, she joined the Gazette staff in 2015.

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