Irene Moore, coordinator for the Meals On Wheels program, was born and raised all around Northwest Indiana and is making sure she is leaving her mark.
Born in Gary, Moore grew up in the Tolleston neighborhood where she also attended the now demolished Tolleston High School. A few years after graduating from high school, Moore got married and moved to Glenn Park where her and her husband started a family. After moving around a bit more and raising their five kids, the couple landed in Portage, where Moore has been for the past 25 years.
“You know, people complain about the weather here all the time, but I like it,” Moore explained. “I have been to a lot of places: from the West Coast to the East Coast, I’ve been to some beautiful places. But this is my home and I can’t imagine living anywhere else.”
And not only is Moore loving every minute of being in Northwest Indiana and near Lake Michigan, she is also creating a community full of compassion and philanthropy for the those who truly need it. After her husband passed away, Moore was introduced to the job through her parish, the Nativity of Our Savior in Portage. But she had some doubts about the job and whether she was the right person for it.
“I remember walking into the interview thinking, ‘I can’t do this. I’ve never done anything like this before in my life,’” Moore said. “But I have to say, the woman who hired me had more faith and more confidence in me than I did myself. And I’m glad she did because I’ve been at this job for 21 years now!”
And at 81-years-old, Moore shows no signs of slowing down. As coordinator of Portage’s Meals On Wheels, Moore is always on the hunt for willing volunteers to deliver hot and delicious meals to seniors around Portage who are in need of a good meal and a friendly face.
“The credit for what we do has to go to the volunteers,” Moore said humbly. “You see all this bad stuff on TV and all of the evil in the world, but when I go to work, I see so many good people who are giving out their time and energy to those who need it. I always think, ‘Here’s the good in the world.’”
For decades, volunteers and caring individuals like Moore have brought kindness to the homes of some of the community’s most vulnerable members. Five days a week, Meals On Wheels delivers a variety of different meals, like dill-glazed salmon, BBQ chicken sandwiches, and meatloaf. Along with a delicious meal, seniors also receive support and friendly visit from a volunteer looking to brighten their day.
“A lot of times, the people our volunteers deliver to don’t see anyone else but the volunteer all day,” Moore explained. “They can be so lonely. So, the volunteers are always so wonderful and no matter if it’s snowing or raining, they are out spreading good in the world.”
Even Moore has been in the role of a volunteer before. When she was low on volunteers, she would get behind the wheel and deliver the meals herself, sometimes even making it into a family affair.
“Every one of my five kids and nine grandkids have volunteered with me,” Moore said proudly. “I picked up my daughter once and told her we were going to deliver some meals and she was right on board. And right now, my youngest son and one of my grandkids are regular volunteers for the program.”
When Moore isn’t serving the community or spending time with her family, she lives a relatively quiet life. For a while she was an active member of her church and always had a love of ceramics.
“One thing I always loved to do was ceramics,” Moore said. “When you’re painting a ceramic, you don’t have to think about anything else. It was always so relaxing and one of my favorite hobbies.”
For 21 years, Moore has dedicated her time and energy to providing nutritious meals, friendly faces and a knowledge that someone is always there to show the world love and kindness it desperately needs. People like Moore are what make organizations like Meals On Wheels so vital to communities. And while she may want to give all of the credit to the volunteers, none of this amazing work would be possible with her, her good grace and her unselfish attitude.
“This job came along and it was a blessing, it really was,” Moore said. “This job built my life and it has been so fulfilling. I’ve had a good life I think.”
For more information about VNA Meals on Wheels program and how to become a volunteer for this great organization, visit www.vnanwi.org.