Ken’s March Against Hunger kicks off on Valentine’s Day

Courtesy Photo Meals on Wheels driver Ken Fadar will be remembered and honored with the Alpena Senior Citizens Center’s annual meal fundraiser, starting Feb. 14.

ALPENA — The memory of a beloved Meals on Wheels driver will be honored Feb. 14 through April 26, through Ken’s March Against Senior Hunger.

The campaign is Alpena Senior Citizens Center’s annual push to fund its meal program, which supplies more than 74,000 meals each year through its Meals on Wheels (delivered to seniors at home) and congregate (served at the center) meal programs.

“All the money raised stays with our meal programs,” said Annie Hepburn, ASCC director. “The meals program itself is the biggest service we provide, and it’s very important, especially because we are sometimes the only ones who see these people within a week. So we do wellness checks with them, and we’re their security.”

She said there have been times where Meals on Wheels drivers have found someone in medical need, or unresponsive, and called 9-1-1 to end up helping save that client’s life.

“The connection, it’s more than just giving them a meal,” Hepburn said. “It’s the companionship and the security that they have with us. We worry about them. We connect with them.”

Hepburn said they have done this fundraiser in past years, but they added Ken’s name to it this year.

“He was a driver here, and he had a strong passion for our seniors,” Hepburn said of the late Ken Fadar. “Unfortunately, he passed away unexpectedly a year ago. So, we felt it was important to keep his memory alive for us, for the seniors, for his family, because it was his strong passion.”

The center will host a Valentine’s Day lunch and dinner to kick off the event. Lunch will be served from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and dinner will be from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. The suggested donation for those ages 60 and older is $3.50, and the charge for those under age 60 is $7 per person. Donation packets will be available for pickup that day, and throughout the campaign, at the senior center, 501 River St.

This year, the center is aiming to raise $25,000. In prior years, they have raised up to $20,000, but Hepburn is hoping to exceed that this year.

“Thirty percent of our financial support comes from fundraisers and donations,” Hepburn said of the center’s operations. “So, we get grants, but 30 percent of it, we have to raise ourselves, and this is part of that.”

Donations are collected from those seniors who use both the Meals on Wheels program, and those who dine at the center, but those donations are not enough to cover the program. The average meal at the senior center costs $4.50 to prepare, while the average donation for congregate meals is $3.08, and the average donation for Meals on Wheels is just $1.

“We have about 180 clients for Meals on Wheels,” Hepburn said, noting that they serve seniors throughout Alpena County. “We have nine routes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and six routes on Tuesday and Thursday.”

Hepburn said anyone over the age of 60 may qualify for the Meals on Wheels program. She added that not everyone can afford the suggested donation, but that meals are still provided to those seniors. Staff does an assessment of each potential client’s needs to see if they are a good candidate for the program, and to determine how many meals they need per week.

“No one should have to worry about how they will afford to feed themselves or their family,” states a fundraiser summary in the February senior center newsletter. “Sadly, many seniors in our community are faced with this concern every day.”

For more information, contact the senior center at 989-356-3585, and ask for Mike Stauffer, in-home services manager.