Name: Denise Schilli
Title: Director of Senior Nutrition
Organization: Opportunities for Williamson and Burnet Counties
How did you become interested in this work?
I first became interested in the Meals on Wheels Program when I was a volunteer driver for a local program in Illinois. I was homeschooling my three children and we would deliver twice a week. My goal was to get my children involved in volunteering. I think I was successful, both my daughters volunteer every chance they get and my son is now serving in the United States Army. Once I decided to put my children in public school I needed a job and the local program offered me a position. I worked there for four years and then when I moved to Texas I was very lucky to find a job here in the same field.
What drives your passion?
The difference we make in our clients lives and knowing we are making an impact on the people we serve keeps me going. I love going to our senior centers or delivering meals and getting to talk with our seniors. I feel so blessed to be able to come to work every day and do this job. I truly can’t see myself ever doing any other type of work.
Does your organization offfer any other programs besides meal delivery?
Our organization is a Community Action Agency and we offer the Early/Head Start Program, we have Affordable Housing and our Community Services Program and we also have a Congregate Meals Program and a Pet Assistance Program. We like to say we serve clients age 0-100.
What is the best advice you’ve ever recieved?
The best advice I have ever received is to lead by example.
What is the biggest challenge in your work?
I would say the biggest challenge is always looking for additional funding sources to keep our program going. We never want to have to implement a wait list for our clients, so it is very important to look for different types of funding sources.
Was there a client, volunteer, or poignant moment in your work that has had a great impact on you?
I would say the clients that have no family members and rely on our program and our volunteers solely probably have had the greatest impact on me. I can’t imagine not having any family in my life to rely on. I am just grateful that we can be there for these clients to fill their needs or find the resources to help them get their needs met.