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VAC benefits from Meals for Moms fundraiser

SYCAMORE – Several local leaders were serving in a different capacity Monday as the Voluntary Action Center hosted its annual Mother’s Day recognition and fundraiser.

The VAC uses the proceeds from its Meals for Moms event, which is now in its ninth year, to help fund its Meals on Wheels program. That program engages a host of volunteers who deliver meals to DeKalb County seniors Monday through Friday.

“The thing about the Meals on Wheels, it’s a wellness check,” Sycamore Mayor Ken Mundy said. “Many of these recipients of the meals, that’s the only visitors they have.”

He was among the mayors, including DeKalb Mayor John Rey, city council members, police and sheriff’s officers, heads of other local nonprofit organizations, business leaders and others who volunteered at the event. Kishwaukee College spokeswoman Kayte Hamel and Northern Illinois University Director of Community Affairs Jennifer Groce also were among the volunteers who helped serve guests.

Meals for Moms was held at St. Mary’s Memorial Hall in Sycamore. It is the VAC’s largest fundraiser, officials said.

“Meals on Wheels is all about families, and there’s no one more key to our family than our mom,” said Ellen Rogers, executive director of the VAC. “This is a way of saluting Mom, by helping to feed people that are in need throughout community.”

VAC officials said as many as 700 seniors are served annually.

A bevy of people filled the venue – most of them women and mothers such as Kathy Lampkins, a county worker in the Sycamore court clerk’s office who also is a Meals on Wheels volunteer. She and her daughter, Becky Springer, a mortgage loan manager at Illinois Community Credit Union, have been supporting the Meals for Moms event for years.

“It’s more than the meal. It’s the contact with that person every single day, just to make sure they’re OK,” that is so rewarding, Lampkins said of the Meals on Wheels program.

The Meals on Wheels program hit tough financial times last fall as a result of the state budget impasse. The VAC cut a day from its delivery schedule in November after not receiving state funds. But local residents rallied behind the organization with an online fundraiser that generated $17,000. Additionally, a local contractor matched donations up to $17,500.

State Rep. Bob Pritchard, R-Hinckley, also was a volunteer server at the event. He said he was hopeful that state legislators this week would approve a bill to fund human services such as Meals on Wheels, similar to the one passed last month for higher education. Several nonprofits have shuttered programs because of a lack of state funding, and more are limping along. Others, such as VAC’s Meals on Wheels, are being funded under a court order, which was recently made.

“VAC provides a lot of valuable services,” Pritchard said. “People have become dependent upon these programs.”

*Daily Chronicle, written by Rhonda Gillespie