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2023 Meals on Wheels Annual Conference - "Meeting of the Minds"

Updated: Oct 9, 2023

On August 16, Brittany Vital, Development & Marketing Director, and Emma Gaulin, Client Services Manager, traveled to Phoenix, AZ to meet with over 700 Meals on Wheels affiliates and advocates from all across the country. Sessions and discussions focused primarily on reaching unserved clients, integrating nutrition and health, and collaborating at all levels. The Conference officially kicked off on Thursday, August 17 with a “state of the network”-style address delivered by Meals on Wheels America President and CEO Ellie Hollander, complete with her perspective on where we’ve been and her vision on our collective future. You can watch the opening keynote address here.

Brittany attended sessions focused on fundraising and community development, including two sessions from Apiro Philanthropy called “Engaging Donors: Inspire Connection with Compelling Storytelling and Fueling Fundraising through Collaboration and Connection. These sessions focused on the importance of ethical story gathering and storytelling and building a culture of philanthropy within an organization.

Emma attended sessions focused on community partnerships and supporting clients with wraparound services and resources to support their unique needs.

Brittany and Emma also had the opportunity to meet with other small programs to discuss successes and challenges and share resources to support one another. Throughout the conference, they were able to connect with people within the Meals on Wheels network from all across the country, sharing ideas and resources to best serve our communities.

On Friday evening, the conference hosted a celebration dinner to recognize the success of the Meals on Wheels network and the incredible impact the services have on our communities. Several awards were announced, including:

  • The Sister Alice Marie Quinn Award – Presented to Shauna Frost, Chief Executive Officer, Meals on Wheels New Mexico for being an influential Meals on Wheels leader committed to combatting senior isolation and hunger with compassion, love and respect. CCMOW nominated our Executive Director, Lark Rambo, for her incredible leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic and the Marshall Fire.

  • The Inaugural Power of a Knock™ Volunteer Award – Presented to Debbie Rickabaugh from Meals on Wheels America Member SourcePoint in Delaware, OH, for being a volunteer who has shown exemplary commitment to the seniors she serves. CCMOW nominated a pair of volunteers for this award - stay tuned for their story!

  • The Inaugural Extra Mile Award – Presented to Edwin Walker, the Administration for Community Living’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Aging, for being a champion who has gone above and beyond to ensure the well-being, independence, and dignity of older adults.

  • The Driving Force Award – Presented to Subaru of America, Inc. for being an exceptional Meals on Wheels America partner committed to impacting the lives of homebound seniors.

Brittany was able to attend the conference on scholarship through the 2023 Rising Star Cohort Scholarship. She was selected to participate in a 6 month leadership program with seven other Meals on Wheels emerging leaders. The cohort will be led by Ellie Hollander, Meals on Wheels America CEO, and Lynn Gresham, Consultant at HR Talent Services LLC. The group will meet monthly to focus on professional development, leadership skills, and share ideas and resources to improve their programs.

“As someone new to the Meals on Wheels network, it was incredible to attend the conference and dive head first into the movement that is Meals on Wheels,” Brittany said. “I learned so much in just a few short days and met many people who I will continue to look to as a resource as I grow in my position at CCMOW and work to further grow our organization. I came back to Colorado energized and even more passionate about ending hunger and isolation in our communities.”

Emma was selected to be a cohort leader for the 2023 Meals on Wheels Loves Pets grant program. Coal Creek Meals on Wheels received a $7,500 grant to expand our Plates for Pets Program, which provides monthly supplies of pet food to our clients to ensure they never have to choose between feeding their pets or themselves. As a cohort leader, Emma meets monthly with other grant recipients in the region to share ideas and resources to improve Meals on Wheels pet programs. As the cohort leader, Emma plans and facilitates the meetings and provides key insight as a manager of a successful pet program.

“It was such an amazing experience,” Emma said. “I felt so inspired after the conference to come back to Colorado and make Coal Creek Meals on Wheels the best we can be for our clients and our communities. I learned so much, and I am extremely grateful for the experience!”

Coal Creek Meals on Wheels is grateful for the support of Meals on Wheels America and the Meals on Wheels network across the country. The partnerships that develop between programs and other community partners are essential to ensure that everyone has access to a nutritious meal and is able to live and age independently wherever they choose.

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