Warren Wenner, Director of Meals on Wheels, Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston

Warren WennerName: Warren Wenner

Title: Director of Meals on Wheels

Organization: Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston

How did you become interested in this work?

I studied nonprofit management in college and have worked in nonprofit work for 37 years.

What drives your passion?

The challenge of serving our 4000 clients each day.

Does your organization offer any other programs besides meal delivery?

·       211

o   Partnership with 211 Care for Elders allows seniors to access Senior Service Guidance Specialists to provide case management service and follow-ups.

·       aniMeals on Wheels

o   aniMeals on Wheels was founded so that senior recipients of our Meals on Wheels program would not feel compelled to share their limited food and resources with their four-legged friends. Many of our Meals on Wheel clients are isolated from their families and friends, and their pets provide them with much-needed companionship, exercise and affection.

·       APS

o   Referrals are made to Adult Protective Services, with follow up, referencing seniors that are in various states of neglect either by family providers or themselves.

·       Assurance wireless

o   Clients are assisted with completing applications for free cell phone service.

·       Breakfast Meals

o   The breakfast bags are delivered once a week and they provide 7 days’ worth of breakfast for our most vulnerable seniors.  Over 950 seniors receive these bags in addition to their lunch meals.

·       Calmer Life

o   A telephone and in person support program through the Baylor College of Medicine for clients experiencing anxiety and depression.

·       Chore Corp

o   Volunteers are paired with clients who would like a little help with yard work, light housekeeping tasks, or getting groceries.

·       Driver training

o   Drivers are trained to identify changes in clients’ mood or behavior due a variety of mental health issues.  This aids in making appropriate referrals to Manager of Client Services.

·       Food Box

o   IM started the Food for Seniors program to ensure that seniors and their families have additional food to get them through the month as a response to the increased need for nutritious food by the growing population of elderly in Harris County. IM’s Food for Seniors (FFS) provides low-income adults ages 60 and over with a 25-lb. box of food at the end of the month—a critical point in which their already limited resources are nearly depleted.

·       FUGE

o   MOW partners with a group of national volunteers from the faith based community offering yard maintenance for Meals on Wheels seniors.

·       Holiday Cards

o   Volunteers make greeting cards for seniors throughout the year for holidays.  This helps in brightening the day of the senior.  Every senior on Meals on Wheels receives a winter holiday greeting card in their holiday gift bag.

·       Holiday gifts

o   The community is asked to donate and assemble holiday gift bags for every senior on Meals on Wheels.  Over 4,000 gift bags are made that consist of necessities and a “fun” item.  These items are toiletry items, blankets, scarves, crossword puzzles, word find books, reading books, socks and much more.

·       L.A.C.E.

o   Longitudinal Ambulatory Clinical Experience – A program that is through the Baylor College of Medicine where medical students shadow Meals on Wheels staff in the field to further identify client needs in a home care setting.

·       Sight-into-Sound Radio

o   Sight into Sounds are given out to clients that have difficulty seeing. These radios broadcast audio programming 24/7. With this service, listeners can keep up to date with their sighted peers by tuning into current editions of the most popular magazines, listening to a live daily reading of the Houston Chronicle, and enjoying some of the most current books.

·       Rebuilding Together Houston

o   Partnership that allows MOW to refer clients to receive free wheelchair ramps and other minor home repairs.

·       Red Cross

o   Red Cross partners with MOW to install smoke alarms in senior’s homes and training for disaster preparedness for our drivers.

·       UT Nursing

o   Nursing students visit with seniors to do wellness checks and talk about the importance of nutrition. Students also complete slips, trips and falls prevention.

·       Veterans recognition

o   Veterans who are on our Meals on Wheels program are recognized by greeting cards made by volunteers with a small gift attached to the cards, such a flag pin. MOW also partners with Honor Veterans Now to feed 25 veterans or 6500 meals.

·       Vial of Life

o   This programs allows easy access for emergency responders to the Meals on Wheels senior’s medical information. This information is collected by Meals on Wheels staff and placed in visible view on the refrigerator of the senior’s home recognizable to emergency responders.

·       Weekend Meals

o   Frozen weekend meals are provided to our most frail and isolated seniors so that they may receive sufficient nutrition for the weekend.

·       Home Plate

o   A program with Houston Methodist discharged patients that provides welfare care and reduces Medicare readmissions.

What is the best advice you’ve ever recieved?

“Think before you speak.”

What is the biggest challenge in your work?

Working with a great staff of over 100 and 4000 volunteers keeps me busy.

Was there a client, volunteer, or poignant moment in your work that has had a great impact on you?

My wife’s grandmother was saved by her Meals on Wheels driver.  She fell the night before in the backyard and broke her hip. She laid there all night. When she did not come to the door He went looking for her and found her in the backyard. She would have died without him. She was in her mid-90’s.

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