PHOTO STORY: Lt. Gov. Gilchrist delivers Meals on Wheels to Cass County seniors

Published 3:32 pm Monday, December 20, 2021

CASSOPOLIS — Cass County was host to a special visitor Monday.

Michigan Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist stopped by the Cass County Council on Aging Monday morning to participate in the facility’s Meals on Wheels program, which delivers meals to area seniors in need. Gilchrist packaged meals then hand-delivered them to seniors in the Cassopolis area, along with Christmas gifts provided by the governor’s office.

“Organizations like the Council on Aging here in Cass County are critical infrastructure. Our seniors have given so much to our community, it’s only right that our community steps up for our seniors,” Gilchrist said. “[We are here] for the employees and volunteers who are really delivering for people here in the county and the region to say ‘thank you to them,’ and also to pitch in a little bit. Me and Gretchen Whitmer care that seniors have what they need not just to survive or get by but really to thrive. It’s especially important this holiday season. We are coming to the end of the year, and that can be a tough time for a lot of people. A lot of families are reflecting, thinking of triumph and tragedy, love and loss. To come here, to say ‘thank you’ to these folks and let them know that our administration, the state of Michigan has our seniors’ backs, that’s why I’m here.”

Gilchrist said showing that support to area seniors is especially important this year, as many have been isolated due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have experienced people being socially separated in a way that we never have in the last couple of years,” he said. “We don’t want anyone in Michigan to feel like they are alone. If anything, the social distancing that we have gone through has reminded us how important our connections are, so organizations like this council that make sure someone cares for you, someone’s going to call you, someone’s going to visit you, someone is going to check on you, make sure you have what you need … that’s what this is all about. That’s a part of being in the community, staying connected like that. This organization helps to make that happen, and I’m proud to support it.”

COA Chief Executive Office Marty Heirty agreed that the Meals on Wheels program is an essential service year-round, but provides additional comfort to Cass County seniors around the holidays.

“Seniors so often are isolated, not having family around,” he said. “Any kind of kindness like this for a lot of them means so much. For a lot of our seniors, it does mean a lot that someone is thinking of them and giving them needed things.”

Heirty said he was grateful Gilchrist visited Cass County this week to brighten the day for area seniors.

“This is exciting. We appreciate that [Gilchrist] came down here to see what we do and to help us out,” Heirty said. “This is a needed service in the community, and we are always looking for volunteers, so the fact that he would take time out of his day to help us is really great.”

Gilchrist said he hoped his visit would encourage Michiganders to do the same and volunteer their time to a worthy cause in their communities.

“The people of Michigan have huge hearts, so I want to encourage them to act on that impulse to step up and volunteer at every opportunity,” he said. “I’m encouraging Michiganders to reach within themselves to step up and stand tall for someone in their community.”