Meals on Wheels volunteers honoured as Murray Bridge branch turns 50

Helen Schubert, Gwen Parbs and others have been recognised at a ceremony in Adelaide.

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When Helen Schubert joined Meals on Wheels, the organisation had just got going in Murray Bridge and most of its drivers were young mums.

“Mums didn’t work, or very few did, so you had time on your hands,” she said.

“We used to go to ladies’ fellowship at our church and we all thought we could do a bit.”

Now, 50 years later, she and several other members of the local branch have been recognised for their long years of volunteer service.

She and Gwen Parbs were both recognised by Governor Hieu Van Le at a recent function in Adelaide for having been involved from the start.

Also honoured were Margaret Warnest and Kay Dougall, each for 45 years service, plus dozens more volunteers from Strathalbyn, Mannum and around South Australia.

Murray Bridge Meals on Wheels had started with a meeting at the John Dohler Hall, Mrs Schubert recalled.

“I’m not sure who instigated it,” she said.

“I know Max Schubert had a fair bit to do with it, but it was Pam Altmann and ... it might have been Dr (Fred) Heddle or Dr Frank Altmann who arranged those first people to get meals.”

Mrs Schubert began delivering meals to elderly or housebound local residents when the branch opened up its second route, along Mannum Road.

Each was served in an aluminium container with three compartments – for meat, potatoes and vegetables – which recipients washed and returned the next day.

She also dished up soup for an entree and custard for dessert.

Her husband, Basil, joined after he retired from the RAA 26 years later.

To this day, the couple still head out on their delivery round once a month.

“I get satisfaction out of it,” Mrs Schubert said.

“It’s something I feel I’ve been able to do for the community.”

Chief executive officer Sharon Broer said volunteers like Mrs Schubert were the backbone of Meals on Wheels SA.

“Our volunteers always put their community first, and in 2020 that selfless spirit has been even more important,” she said.

“Despite all the challenges of COVID-19, our volunteers … continue to prepare and deliver nutritious meals as well as carry out welfare checks and social interactions with people in need across the state.”

Meals on Wheels is SA’s largest community-based volunteer organisation, with 7000 volunteers who deliver 4000 meals every day.

Meals on Wheels Murray Bridge delivers hot three-course lunches made at Murray Bridge Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital on weekdays, and frozen meals for weekends and holidays.

Murray Bridge News contacted Ms Parbs for this story, but she declined to comment, saying she would happily go along with whatever Mrs Schubert had said.

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