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Volunteer food delivery driver provides access to nutrition to neighbors in need

By Lori Berkey, Contributing Writer

Marlborough – Every fourth Thursday for the past three years, Millissa Patulak has headed to the Marlborough Community Cupboard to pick up groceries for four individuals who are homebound. Each month, she loads up her car, delivers the groceries and returns to the pantry with the lists of items the people would like to receive the next month. Her volunteerism provides people with nutrition as well as the comfort that someone who cares about them will be stopping by.
 
According to Kathy Murphy, volunteer coordinator at the Marlborough Senior Center, the food delivery program is jointly organized by the senior center, the United Way and the Community Cupboard. She said the program currently has 15 volunteer drivers and is always looking for more help.
 
The four people who Patulak assists all live in the same complex, so the service that is crucial to their well-being only takes her about an hour a month. Upon her retirement from her career as a nurse practitioner the volunteer duty seemed like a good fit to her.
 
“I wanted to do some volunteer work after I retired, but I didn’t want something that took too much time from my own busy life,” she said.
 
Patulak delivers a range of items from frozen food to fresh produce and regular staples. She doesn’t stay long when she delivers, letting people know about the perishables.
 
“I’m only there a few minutes when I bring the food, but sometimes they’ll tell you a little something going on in their life and you find out you have something in common or a mutual interest,” Patulak said. “It’s nice to be a little part of their lives.”
 
According to Murphy, the food delivery service is offered to people who qualify for food from the food pantry, but who are homebound with no means to pick up the food.
 
“It is a great volunteer opportunity,” Murphy said. “Once a month, you deliver to those in our own community that need assistance.”
 
Patulak agreed.
 
“It’s a very pleasant job that doesn’t take a lot of time. You need to have a vehicle and some stamina to carry grocery bags,” she noted.
 
Once Patulak started her volunteer duties, she’s been motivated to keep them up.
 
“I believe I made a commitment and I want to keep it,” she said. “The clients depend on this food and look forward to your coming.”
 
Patulak isn’t looking for credit or any special recognition for what she does.
 
“Don’t make me out to be some kind of hero. I’m just an ordinary person doing a little job,” she said.
 
Besides the food delivery opportunity, volunteers help with many other tasks through the center. Other volunteers assist with such things as leading Bingo, running the book club, helping with the center’s library, and facilitating activities such as knit and crochet gatherings and bridge matches.
 
For more information about the food delivery program or to inquire about volunteering, contact Murphy at the Marlborough Senior Center at 508-485-6492.
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