Volunteer Spotlight: Karin Ziegler

When Karin Ziegler decided it was time for her to retire after 40 years in the healthcare industry, formerly serving as president and CEO of Presbyterian Senior Care of WNY, she knew she wanted to remain active and involved in her community. That’s why she began volunteering with FeedMore WNY.

In addition to delivering meals out of our Lackawanna site two days per week, Ziegler also sets aside time to make companion calls to home-delivered meal clients twice each week. Ziegler learned about our companion call program through FeedMore WNY President and CEO Tara A. Ellis, and she absolutely loves it.

“There are a lot of people out there who don’t have anyone to talk to,” Ziegler, companion calls volunteer, said. “Volunteers lost a lot of face time with clients due to COVID-19 and this is our opportunity to talk to people and let them know someone is thinking of them.”

Our companion call program was started during COVID-19 due the limited interactions our volunteers could have with our home-delivered meal clients. Our volunteers are the only people many of our clients get to interact with in a given day, and our volunteers deeply missed connecting with clients they had grown close to. To help bridge this gap, companion call volunteers call our home-delivered meal clients to check on their well-being, see how they are managing during the pandemic and to chat about daily life. Even as pandemic restrictions lifted, FeedMore WNY opted to continue our companion call program due to its popularity with both clients and volunteers.

Having a husband with disabilities and a new grandson, Ziegler greatly appreciates the flexibility that comes with the companion call program. “It’s a great program to volunteer for when you need flexibility due to other responsibilities. [The FeedMore WNY team] appreciates any amount of time you have to come in and are very kind,” Ziegler said.

Conversations with clients typically begin with topics such as how they are enjoying their meals and often lead to clients sharing about their everyday lives.

“Clients love to talk about their favorite meals, favorite TV shows, their dogs, their grandchildren and even their great grandchildren. Being a grandmother now myself, it’s fun getting to discuss our experiences with our grandchildren together,” Ziegler said.

Volunteers keep a log of anything of importance that comes up in the conversation such as food allergies, diet and medical issues that may need follow up. Volunteer logs are sent to our Nutrition and Client Services teams, who respond to any concerns. During one companion call, Ziegler spoke to a visually impaired client who was struggling with being alone after their spouse was admitted into the hospital. Ziegler was able to relay the information to our Social Work team, and the client was able to get the additional assistance they needed.

“I feel very fortunate with my life, so I love being able to give back in this way. It feels good at the end of the day that I am doing something that people appreciate. Sometimes I think I’m getting more out of it than they do!”

volunteer to make companion calls

If you are interested in volunteering with our companion call program, please call (716) 822-2005 ext. 3048 or email skoch@feedmorewny.org.

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about FeedMore WNY

FeedMore WNY offers dignity, hope and a brighter future by providing nutritious food, friendship and skills training to its Western New York neighbors in need. Through its food bank distribution center and partner hunger-relief agencies, as well as its home-delivered meal program and other targeted feeding programs, FeedMore WNY alleviates hunger and assists community members of all ages throughout Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie and Niagara counties.