Ensuring Volunteers Are Able to Deliver Meals and a Smile to Homebound Clients

Organization Information:

Organization Name:
Meals on Wheels of Lehigh County
City & State:
Organization Website:
Organization's Mission Statement

To deliver nutritious meals, with the help of volunteers, to persons who are unable to shop or prepare adequate meals for themselves because of advanced age, disability or illness; and to enable these individuals to live independently in their homes as long as possible.

Submission Information

Impact Essay

Imagine that you are a homebound senior citizen who has just received notice that you will be receiving your meals and a friendly visit and safety check from Meals on Wheels starting today. However, this morning while you were walking from your kitchen to the living room, you fell. You are unable to reach the telephone to call for help. But, you know that a Meals on Wheels volunteer will be arriving between 11:30 am and 12:15 pm., so although you are in pain, you know that help will be on the way.

As the hours tick by and the volunteer does not arrive, you feel a sense of panic and despair. What could have happened? Unfortunately, the volunteer wasn’t able to get to you today day because the staffer in the Meals on Wheels office who creates the route sheets for volunteers could not find your house on the paper map that he had in the office.

This scenario would never take place for a Meals on Wheels of Lehigh County client. Because of Microsoft’s donation of MapPoint software, Meals on Wheels of Lehigh County assures that our volunteers are able to reach hundreds of homebound senior citizens and people with disabilities throughout Lehigh County’s 344 square miles.

Since 1971 Meals on Wheels of Lehigh County has provided more than five million meals to our most vulnerable neighbors. We serve homebound senior citizens and people with disabilities who are at risk of malnutrition because they are unable to grocery shop for themselves and cook nutritious meals because of physical or mental impairments, safety concerns or inability to drive or travel to stores. Our meals alleviate hunger and can improve the health status of clients while delaying or preventing the need to move into an institutional setting.

We depend upon a cadre of 900 individual and group volunteers to deliver meals to ensure health, a social visit to avert isolation and a safety check to assure well-being. These volunteers travel on 33 routes throughout Lehigh County and serve about 450 clients each and every weekday.

The volunteers are able to “make their appointed rounds” through the efforts of our diligent mappers. Our four mappers (part-time retired engineers) create route sheets each day which are used by the volunteers. As clients come on and off our service, their homes are added to or deleted from each route, requiring new route sheets every weekday of the year. Volunteers must have perfect directions to get to our clients’ home which are located in urban, suburban and rural areas.


The route sheets they create provide directions between clients. The directions include distances to turns and landmarks to assist in location. The routing attempts to be as efficient as possible and also takes into account safety and consideration for volunteers. The mappers create routes that minimize volunteer steps, ensure that volunteers are safe by stopping on the same side of the street as the client in heavy traffic areas, and avoid alleys and unnamed streets.


Our mappers use Microsoft MapPoint 2006 software received through Tech Soup. The vulnerable clients we serve do not have to worry that a volunteer will show up. The scenario presented above would never happen. As a matter of fact, because our volunteers do arrive to our clients’ homes, they have actually found clients who have fallen and been able to call 911. Our volunteers have literally saved lives because they were able to get to our clients by using accurate route sheets, created by our mappers using MapPoint 2006!

Submission Category
Optimize Mission Delivery