Imagine you still live in your own home but have no way of going to the grocery store or are unable to prepare a meal because of age, handicap or convalescing.

Meals on Wheels can help you retain that valuable commodity of independence by having three "ready to eat" meals a day delivered to you, five days a week, even providing an emergency meal in case of inclement weather.

Maybe you're not in need of this service today, but there may come a time when you would be very grateful to Meals on Wheels.

Palmerton's Meals on Wheels are in dire need of the community's help in trying to preserve their clients' independence through donations and volunteers.

Currently they serve approximately 70 meals per week to 24 clients and have delivered more than 132,000 meals since 1972 when it began in the Boroughs of Palmerton, Bowmanstown, and the area of Aquashicola. It is a non-profit 501-C3 organization that is supported through contributions from Horsehead Community Development Fund, United Way of Palmerton, civic organizations, church groups and concerned individuals.

The meals are prepared at the Blue Mountain Health System-Palmerton campus, all nutrionally balanced and they work with the clients on dietary needs.

The clients pay for the meals, $35 a week. But Meals on Wheels depend on the community's support for its overhead and administrative expenses such as liability insurance which amounts to about $200 per week. It has only one paid employee and that is Richard Bowman, coordinator.

The service may be requested by patients, their families, physicians, social service agencies or visiting nurses. There is no discrimination in regard to race, color, religion or sex.

The drivers to deliver the meals are all volunteers. Most only deliver once a week and it takes about two hours of their time. Often they are the only contact the clients have with the outside, which is in itself a blessing to many.

"Meals on Wheels enables someone to stay in their own home and this way they get to see someone every day. If someone doesn't answer their door, we contact someone," says Bill Gallagher, a member of Meals on Wheels board and also a volunteer driver.

"All our volunteers are kind and caring," says Irene Shinsec, president of Meals on Wheels board of directors and a former driver herself.

George Ashman, of Palmerton, has been delivering Meals on Wheels for the last 15 years, one day a week.

"I do it because it must be done. Also, I look at it as insurance to when I'll need the service," Ashman says.

Mattie Eck, 92, a resident at Palmerton Mid Rise on Delaware Ave. has been receiving Meals on Wheels for about two years.

"I no longer have a car. It's a convenience I find that is very helpful and the meals are very tasty," she says.

Ashman, Gallagher and Shinsec all hope that everyone who reads this will consider supporting Meals on Wheels through a donation that can be made to: Meals on Wheels Palmerton, sent to 434 Edgemont Ave., Palmerton, PA 18071. You can call Irene Shinsec for more information or to volunteer at 610-826-2521. To contact Richard Bowman, the coordinator, call 610-826-1163.