Serving Up Daily Connections for Marlow Seniors

by Elizabeth Pitts-Hibbard
Nellie Carr, a volunteer with Marlow Senior Nutrition, delivers lunch to one of her “regulars” at the Redbud Community Center. Carr has worked every weekday at the Center since March 17,  serving drive-up meals to senior citizens in the area. Nellie Carr, a volunteer with Marlow Senior Nutrition, delivers lunch to one of her “regulars” at the Redbud Community Center. Carr has worked every weekday at the Center since March 17, serving drive-up meals to senior citizens in the area.

For many senior citizens in the Marlow area, Nellie Carr is a daily lunch date. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the 84-year old Marlow resident has been a consistent volunteer during the lunches provided at the Redbud Community Center in Redbud Park. Once the center was closed to the public on March 17, however, Carr has arrived every weekday to distribute lunches to senior citizens via drive-through.

“I haven’t had a sick day yet,” Carr said. “These folks depend on me.”

Monday through Friday from 11am until noon, residents drive up to the doorway of the Community Center and receive a meal for $2. They also receive a warm greeting and a check-in from Carr and the staff.

“For a lot of these folks, we may be the only people they talk to all day,” Carr said. “I try to check in with them and see how they’re doing. If they don’t get here on time, I call them and make sure they’re okay.”

As people drive up, Carr talks to them about how their day is going and gets updates on their lives. One gentleman who had to open his door to receive his lunch told her he’d finally gotten an estimate on getting his automatic window fixed. Another talked to Carr about how her grandson was doing.

“Be sure you come back tomorrow,” Carr told several people. “We’re having chicken spaghetti.”

Carr said that when she continued to volunteer after the Center closed, her children were concerned for her health.

“I told them, ‘I want to keep doing this and it’s good for me,’” Carr said. “It keeps me moving and it makes me happy.”

Carr doesn’t appear to be having trouble moving as she makes trips in and out of the building with boxed lunches that include chicken salad, bread, cole slaw, and dessert as well as cartons of milk balanced on top. “I’ve got a lot of experience with this,” she jokes. “I used to be a car hop at A&W.”

After several months of the nearly 35 “regulars” coming to the drive-up distribution, Carr knows who likes to have their meals in a bag, who might need an extra piece of cake, and who is taking extra meals for neighbors.

Linda Nichols, who works at the Center, said that the Delta Nutrition program serves 28-35 people daily via drive-through and another 54 more via delivery.

“The City of Marlow furnishes a bus and driver,” Nichols said. “The City is real good to us.”

Carr said that she would continue to volunteer as long as the Center is closed to the public, because she feels she gets as much out of it as the regulars do. “I get to be friends with people, and that helps me stay connected,” Carr said. Then she shook her head sadly. “Then if we lose one, it’s so hard. This virus is so terrible for everyone.”

The Marlow Senior Nutrition program is operated in cooperation with Delta Nutrition to provide the lunches for residents age 60 and above. Delivery can be arranged by calling 580-658-5573 Monday through Friday from 9am until noon.