Former nurse of 40 years still finds satisfaction helping others

(Photo: WKRN)

DICKSON, Tenn. (WKRN) – A Dickson woman who spend 40 years saving lives still finds satisfaction helping those who need her the most.

Mary Bell worked for four decades as a critical care nurse. She moved to Dickson in 1985, raised a family and now finds joy in bringing nutrition to seniors in her community.

For the last 24 years, twice a month, Bell delivers lunch to home bound residents of Dickson through the Meals on Wheels program.

“People think, ‘Ahh! You deliver Meals on Wheels, you’re such a saint.’ It’s an hour or an hour and a half once or twice a month. It’s such a pleasure and so easy to do,” she told News 2.

The meals that Bell delivers are prepared in the fellowship hall of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Gail Adams is the site manager and has been with the program for more than 30 years.

“We average about 30 hot meals going out a day, then we [have] about 25 that are on frozen meals that we deliver frozen so they can put those in their freezer and use them those two weeks,” explained Bell.

Like most nonprofits, the organization runs on volunteer power.

Mary Bell has delivered meals through the Meals on Wheel program for more than 20 years. (Photo: WKRN)

“I do it because I love the people and there is a big need to take care of our elderly,” said volunteer Christy Ayres.

Organizers of the program told News 2 it doesn’t have enough resources to serve everyone who qualifies.

“It’s so sad when you go out there and they call on the phone and want a meal and we say we’re sorry, we don’t have any openings,” Adams said.

Volunteer Sharon McDaniel added, “If you are home 24/7 by yourself every day and you know a volunteer is coming to see you, it’s the highlight of your day. It makes your day.”

Bell said while she visits with the elderly recipients, she also does a welfare check, which once saved the life of one client.

“She was on the floor and had been there all night – so cold. [She] had been there all night. [She] had broken her hip and was on the floor,” she said.

Since half of the elderly live alone, the visit is just as important as the meal.

Bell says all you need to be a volunteer with the Meals on Wheels program is a reliable car and a willing heart.

Click here for more of Anne Holt’s Tennessee stories.