On Saturday (June 19th), the Vesuvius Furnace Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) presented Joanne Caruso with its 2021 Community Service Award for her long standing work with the meal delivery program for Lincoln County residents through East Lincoln Christian Ministries. She began volunteering with the ministry in 2000 and became involved with the Home Meals program in 2004. Joanne was nominated for this award by Carole Rowell with a supporting recommendation from Pastor Steve Autry of Denver United Methodist Church.
“Joanne’s work with East Lincoln Christian Ministries does more than keep people fed. While alleviating hunger is important and should not be minimized, Joanne also provides for the care of the soul. She knows each of her ministries' clients and provides crucial connections between them and the isolation many of them suffer with. She is a friend and steady presence in their lives.” Autry said in his letter of recommendation. Many of the drivers in the meal delivery program were present to cheer her on as she was given the pin and certificate for her award.
Regular readers of the Lincoln Herald may remember that Joanne was named the Grand Marshal for the 2018 East Lincoln Betterment Association Denver Christmas Parade.
As we wrote then, Joanne spent her early childhood in Washington, DC, where her father was an attorney and accountant with the General Accounting Office of the US government. Because of her father's job, she got to travel across the country.
She decided on a career as a nurse and worked as a nurse for over 40 years before retiring in 1998. Her experience as a nurse came in handy as her husband Jerry, a double amputee, needed significant care in his final days before he passed. "I had 59 wonderful years with the love of my life," she told us. She now lives with one of her two sons; the other lives in Florida.
"Jerry told me he'd never want to work with me because I was too much of a perfectionist," she told us, "but when I was asked to work in the Home Meals program, he asked, 'can we do this?' He was a wonderful helper."
A member of Denver United Methodist Church, Joanne says her faith has much to do with her volunteering for East Lincoln Christian Ministry.
Busy as she is directing 200 volunteers in the Home Meals program, she still finds time to grow flowers, herbs for her cooking, and other activities. "I love to get outside and watch the birds and hummingbirds," she told us. She loves to cook and still makes most things from scratch including a very tasty spaghetti sauce.
Since she began working with the Home Meals program, it has grown to double its former size.
The goal of the Home Meals program is to help those served continue to live at home, maintain good health and live independently. The volunteers deliver lunchtime meals Monday through Friday.
“The Home Meals program does more than just make sure they have a healthy meal,” she told us. “They look forward to the meal and the visit from the driver. Quite often, that driver is the only person they see all day.”
We send our drivers out “with a meal, a hello and smile,” she said. Another important thing about the program is that it offers a chance for someone to check on the elderly person each day. "If something is amiss, they can call family or emergency help."