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Meals on Wheels Lewes-Rehoboth director celebrates 25 years

MEALSONWHEELS-LR.COM PHOTO
November 7, 2016

So many of us are fortunate enough to take this business of eating for granted. Often the most complicated challenge we face is which restaurant to visit or what to pull out of the refrigerator for a home-cooked meal. But for some, it's not that easy. Choosing a restaurant is the last thing on your mind when you can't even get out to the grocery store. Enter: Meals on Wheels. And, more particularly here in the Cape Region, Meals on Wheels Lewes-Rehoboth.

This organization prepares and delivers a hot meal, a breakfast/sandwich bag, milk and orange juice to homebound seniors for every day of the week. Each meal is prepared under the supervision of a professional nutritionist. The amount of organization can be mind-boggling as volunteer drivers line up every day for their multiple deliveries, each package tailored for a particular recipient. The coordinators of this daily ballet of chefs, packaging people, organizers, drivers, nutritionists and office staff is a hardworking team headed up by none other than Kathy Keuski, celebrating her 25th year as director of Meals on Wheels Lewes-Rehoboth. 

When Kathy first started, there were only 62 clients, and the meals were prepared at the Lewes Senior Center. Things have changed since then, and today the program serves over 110,000 meals annually to more than 351 clients. Each meal is professionally conceived and prepared in the huge kitchens at Fish On restaurant in the Villages of Five Points. 

Early on, Kathy spearheaded a comprehensive client filing system that includes allergy, medication and emergency contact information. All of this has proven to be valuable – even life-saving – as the list of homebound seniors has grown. In fact, her system has been adopted by all the other Meals on Wheels programs in Delaware. 

Keuski continues to interact with the community on behalf of Meals on Wheels Lewes-Rehoboth, facilitating a massive outreach that includes Beebe Healthcare, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers and senior centers. As the list of clients grew, Kathy singlehandedly developed Meals on Wheels Lewes-Rehoboth's first mail campaign, one of the primary tools for keeping Meals on Wheels Lewes-Rehoboth on the road. 

Every penny raised for Meals on Wheels Lewes-Rehoboth, including the Top Chef of the Culinary Coast competition, Mary Ann Slinkman's Wheels for Meals Bike-a-Thon and the Harry Derrickson Memorial Golf Tournament & Banquet, remains right here in ZIP codes 19971 and 19958. No other Delaware Meals on Wheels fundraising entity can make that claim! 

In spite of the generosity of charities and businesses such as SoDel Cares, SoDel Concepts, Cape Gazette, Techno Goober, the Big Fish Restaurant Group Charitable Foundation, Atlantic Liquors, Kevin Fleming, the Touch of Italy/RehobothFoodie.com Foundation, Southern Delaware Tourism, Highway One LP, Rehoboth Beach Country Club, Delmarva Broadcasting Co., the Schell Family, Accent on Travel, Meineke Car Care Center in Lewes, the Chicks for Charity and numerous businesses and other generous benefactors, grants are still required to maintain the daily meal services.

Kathy's efforts in that regard have resulted in the acquisition of the Lewes land and office that now houses the Meals on Wheels Lewes-Rehoboth staff. Subsequent grants have helped secure new office equipment, supplies for volunteer drivers and even a new roof for the office. She even instituted a holiday outreach project providing Christmas gifts for the clients. 

As of this writing, there are 14 routes and 120 volunteer drivers. Kathy's training systems have been held up as the statewide benchmark of excellence. While the mission has always been to deliver nutritious meals, Meals on Wheels Lewes-Rehoboth also helps clients with doctor visits, home repair and daily kind words for often lonely homebound seniors. 

Kathy Keuski has received multiple awards for outstanding achievement from the president of the United States, the governor of Delaware and the Sussex County Consortium. Her ability to adapt and grow has allowed many Lewes, Rehoboth and Harbeson seniors to remain in their own homes rather than burdening already overburdened nursing facilities. 

So the board of directors, the volunteers, staff and countless supporters congratulate Kathy Keuski on her 25th anniversary at the helm of Meals on Wheels Lewes-Rehoboth! Though she might not be quite as enthusiastic about an additional 25 years as executive director, the entire organization wishes her the happiness and health for at least 25 more! 

Learn more about Meals on Wheels Lewes-Rehoboth by calling 302-645-7449 or go to www.MealsonWheels-LR.com. The website allows you to donate, learn about upcoming fundraisers and apply as a volunteer.

  • So many restaurants, so little time! Food writer Bob Yesbek gives readers a sneak peek behind the scenes, exposing the inner workings of the local culinary industry, from the farm to the table and everything in between. He can be reached at byesbek@capegazette.com.

    Masthead photo by Grant Gursky. Used with permission from Coastal Style Magazine.