Priscilla Andre-Cotton has a special fondness for June Seroskie, because she reminds Andre-Cotton of her mother.
Photo by Shirley Ruhe.
Priscilla and Todd Andre-Cotton pick up their Meals on Wheels delivery list at the loading dock before heading out on Route 1 on Oct. 26. "Oh, here is a new address," Priscilla says. The Andre-Cottons drive the fourth Friday of the month delivery as part of the Old Presbyterian Meeting House team.
Todd says he has been delivering with Priscilla for three years, but Priscilla says, "I have been doing it for years. In Pittsburgh it was a whole different set-up where we worked out of the church where the meals were cooked." Here in Alexandria the city pays for most of the meals with the Senior Services supplementing several days a month.
The lunches are catered by Jeffrey's Catering on Wheeler Avenue. Kristy Cleaveland, executive chef, says, "Besides Meals on Wheels, we cater for Head Start, daycare, shelters and the Food Bank." She adds on any one day between the breakfasts, lunches and snacks for the children they cater 15,000 items.
Today's Meals on Wheels menu includes a hot meal of minestrone soup, cornbread, mashed potatoes, fruit salad and milk. In addition, each person gets a cold meal of chicken salad with a roll, spinach-strawberry salad, vinegar-oil based coleslaw, a banana and milk. Cleaveland explains they have a separate menu for vegetarians. "For instance, today we would sub out the chicken salad with cucumber hummus and provolone cheese."
Priscilla and Todd check out the seven addresses for today's delivery and haul the insulated containers which have been prepackaged for the cold and hot lunches to their van. Today there is an extra box for each client that contains non-perishable supplies to keep on the shelf in case there is an emergency and there would be no delivery. This special delivery takes place twice a year. One volunteer says, “I think we've only missed one delivery during Snowmageddon."
Priscilla and Todd take off toward Beauregard Street to find the first address. Todd drives down the block searching for the numbers on a row of apartment buildings, turns the van around and tells Priscilla, "it must be back this way." In a minute Priscilla decides to get out of the van. "I'm going to walk it; it's easier. Priscilla disappears while Todd drives into the apartment complex and follows the numbers.
He finds the address, but the next question is where is Priscilla. She comes jogging around the corner and they locate Unit 10. "Next time we'll know," she says. "We won't get caught more than once. But guess we won't finish our route in an hour today." She says Meals on Wheels does provide detailed directions but sometimes a new one can be difficult to locate.
Priscilla heads up the stairs and Nancy Aeberli opens the door. She explains she is the ex-wife and caretaker of the new Meals on Wheels client. After a quick conversation, the Andre-Cottons backtrack and head around the corner to the next client. Priscilla explains the next person on the list has a nephew, John Pope, who spends twice a week there and answers the door to collect the meals.
On to the third house, where they park and slide open their van door to collect this week's delivery. Knock-out roses are still blooming in the yard and a bird chirps in the tree by the front door. After a wait, June Seroskie answers the door.
"June reminds me of my mom. She is very gracious. When she wasn't doing very well a while back, she had me take the meals to her kitchen, and it was all very prim and proper," Priscilla says.
The Alexandria Meals on Wheels program is one of the few programs in the country with delivery seven days a week. Volunteers are welcome. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.