HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - For four mornings out of the week, Monica Powers joins four other employees at the Horry County Council on Aging.
Together, they unload nearly 100 boxes, each containing a week’s worth of frozen meals, into their cars.
The team spends hours each morning traveling throughout the county to deliver the meals to more than 350 home-bound senior citizens.
Powers predicts she drives 300 miles each week down dirt roads and highways from the state line to the coast.
“I’ve learn a lot of the roads out here, a lot of the people out here. I get to help some of the people out here," Powers said. “It’s kind of rewarding.”
Powers has delivered meals for the council for three years and along the way developed relationships with the people who let her into their homes.
“They look forward to when I come because sometimes it’s the only interaction, they have with somebody... sometimes it’s the whole week, they really don’t have anybody else,” Powers said.
Barbra Royal and her husband William are two of the people Powers visits each week.
“It helps,” Barbra Royal said. “It’s good to see another face anyway, even if you don’t bring things.”
The organization estimates it delivers more than 120,000 meals a year.
The home delivered meals are funded through money the council receives from Horry County.
The organization predicts it receives nearly $900,000 from the county each year. This sum is generated through a .4 mills all county resident pay for the Senior Citizen Fund.
Powers said she doesn’t know what some of the residents would do without the weekly delivery.
“A lot of them are home-bound, they can’t get food,” she said. “Some of them don’t have family here. They would probably go hungry.”
Home delivered meals are just one of the services the council provides.
The council services ten senior centers throughout the county that offer daily activities, hot meals and education.
Other services include transportation, counseling and housekeeping.
“We try to keep people at home and independent and out of nursing homes, that’s our mission statement and we do a pretty good job of it thanks to our county millage,” said the council’s Deputy Director Elaine Gore.
To fund all of these services, the organization relies on money from donations and grants in addition to taxpayers’ money. Members said they operate on a more than $2 million dollar budget.
Despite the other sources of revenue, Gore said without the county funding, services would be impacted.
“Our operations would be reduced at least 45% to 50% and that would be half of our senior centers, more than half of our home delivered meals,” Gore said. "It’s very expensive but in the long run it’s not. It keeps people at home, it saves the taxpayers millions of dollars from Medicaid beds, so we offset that cost a lot, it’s worth it.”
If any Horry County senior citizens are interested in receiving a home delivered meal or any of the other services, they can reach out to the center at (843)-248-5523.