By Ashley Hackett, Open Arms Photojournalism Intern
It’s 11:30 a.m. on a Thursday, and Doug and Twylla are driving amidst the Minneapolis traffic. They have several bags filled with fresh food and frozen entrees from Open Arms of Minnesota, ready to deliver them on their weekly Northeast Minneapolis route.
“I started volunteering at Open Arms in March of 2012, and Twylla started after she retired two years ago,” Doug said. The couple, married for 35 years, deliver meals together every Thursday.
When Doug first retired, he began searching for volunteer opportunities. When he found out about Open Arms, he realized that it was right up his alley. “I tried everything out,” Doug said. “I did some cooking, delivering and putting food together.” Doug enjoyed the variety of volunteer options at Open Arms, including kitchen prep, delivery and gardening in one of Open Arms’ three urban farms. When Twylla joined Doug in his volunteering efforts, the couple decided to focus on delivery.
“When we go on delivery, we’re always touched by the overwhelming gratitude that [clients] express,” Twylla commented. “And when we come and go from Open Arms, we’re often joking around with people here. It’s a friendly bunch.”
The couple agreed that their favorite part of delivery is being able to form relationships with the people on their delivery route, and that seeing their smiles each week makes every second worth it. “We have a variety of different ages that we deliver to on our route,” Twylla said, “but I’ve formed a special relationship with an older gentleman we deliver to. I always like to go and bring his meals and chat. We chat about things and about what’s happening in our lives – he’d probably talk to me all morning if I stayed! He’s a cool guy.”
Doug and Twylla enjoy the face-to-face nature of delivering meals, as they can see firsthand how much their help is needed. “It’s sometimes easy to forget the gravity of the clients’ illnesses, but seeing their smiling faces on our delivery route is a reminder of how important this work is,” said Doug.
“It’s a wonderful thing that they’re doing here at Open Arms, and it is so important,” Doug said. “It’s truly what everybody should do.”