Memorial Meals offers a pair of food service options, depending on a resident's needs-helping seniors who can no longer cook or may not be consuming balanced nutrition on a regular basis.

Memorial Meals offers a pair of food service options, depending on a resident's needs-helping seniors who can no longer cook or may not be consuming balanced nutrition on a regular basis.

In the mid-1980s, Union County Commissioners approached Memorial Health with a need to be filled: The rural county had an aging population who required social services to remain longer in their homes, such as meals that could be delivered to their front doors.

From that need was born a two-pronged approach to feeding older residents inside and outside their homes, which 30 years later has earned Memorial Hospital the 2015 Good Works Award.

Memorial Meals offers a pair of food service options, depending on a resident's needs-helping seniors who can no longer cook or may not be consuming balanced nutrition on a regular basis.

The first, Memorial Mobile Meals, is the only hospital-based mobile meals program in Ohio. It delivers food door-to-door five days per week thanks to the efforts of 200 volunteers. The second, Memorial Community Meals, involves preparation of meals by Memorial's food and nutrition staff for senior citizens who gather at one of three locations.

What started with five routes and 50 clients in Memorial Mobile Meals' first year has grown into 12 routes and 250 meals a day. In 2014, it provided nearly 46,000 meals, with another 30,000 Memorial Community Meals served.

The two programs cost $600,000 a year to run-funded primarily by Memorial Health with additional grant, corporate and community sponsors. Among the participating services are the Memorial Hospital Food and Nutrition dieticians, Memorial Hospital nurse Jeannette Epp and Memorial Health Volunteer Services and its volunteers.

"I can't tell you how many (family members) tell us how grateful they are that we can provide this service," says Marilyn Hassinger, Memorial's director of food and nutrition and diabetes education, who has administered the programs for the past 16 years. "It is a lifesaver for a lot of people."

Hassinger has help running the programs from five staff members in community meals and three in home delivery, as well as more than two dozen daily volunteers who deliver meals Monday through Friday and serve on location.

"We could not survive without our volunteers," she says. "Their in-kind donation of their labor helps us keep the costs down."

Lamarr Coleman, retired from doing transmission work at Honda, became one of those volunteers three years ago at the suggestion of a church friend. He calls it a "very good program."

"We have a lot of people in the county and around Marysville who need this program and a lot of people who participate in the program to keep it going," Coleman says. "It speaks well for the hospital and the administration and the volunteer program that a lot of people in the community want to help it out."

The services provided go far beyond food. Mobile Meals also provides a registered nurse who regularly visits clients to evaluate their health. And when a new client comes on board, Hassinger says, the staff and volunteers take charge of their well-being almost like they would for a grandparent.

They can and have provided life-saving eyes and ears on the ground.

"We have found people who fell in their garage and broke a hip, and didn't have a Lifeline or any way to get help," she says. "We continue fostering the 'I need to take care of my neighbor' attitude. And when the clients need services, they come to the hospital and use our physicians."

Hassinger says Memorial Meals constantly enhances its service.

While some other food service programs have a lag time between signup and delivery, those who enroll for Memorial Meals receive food immediately. And Mobile Meals customizes its offerings, depending on tastes, dietary requirements and physical challenges.

To address a recent "downward trend" in the Community Meals program that Hassinger attributed to a changing senior population, the program expanded its service hours.

"People can start receiving our service at age 60, but a lot of people had a negative stereotype of going to a community meal center, and 60-year-olds did not want to sit around having lunch at 11 a.m.," she says.

"We did a big renovation at Windsor (senior center) and opened up dining so people can come whenever they wish from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and…counts were off the roof. Something that small allows us to reach newly retired clients but still meet the needs of current clients."

"We have found people who fell in their garage and broke a hip, and didn't have a Lifeline or any way to get help. We continue fostering the 'I need to take care of my neighbor' attitude."

Finalist

Romanoff Group

Winter can be tough on many industries, but likely none more so than construction, where weather challenges can put work on hold and employees on the sidelines.

The Romanoff Group, which is made up of Romanoff Electric and Romanoff Heating and Cooling, came up with an alternative for its 30 workers to collecting eight-weeks of unemployment. Each was instead invited to work for local charitable organizations and continue to collect their paycheck, and that idea helped make it a finalist in the Good Works category.

The majority of employees rolled up their sleeves for some community work with organizations including Meals on Wheels, Habitat for Humanity and Rebuilding Together Central Ohio's community tool library.

The result: busy hands helped build a stronger bond between a business and its community while also endearing the company to its workforce,

"That small gesture created raving fans within our organization as they saw that we were eager to do anything to keep them working regardless of the impact on our bottom line," Safety and HR Vice President Heather Larkin wrote in nominating her company for the award.