MORRIS – Long-time Morris Mobile Meals Coordinator Char Orndorff has retired from the nonprofit, and the board of directors has hired Morris resident Michaela Gretencord as her replacement, with Laurie Cooper as assistant coordinator.
The board said its goodbyes to Orndorff in late December.
It was the volunteers she worked with over the past 20 years that she enjoyed the most.
“I never underestimated those wonderful people,” Orndorff said of the program’s volunteers. “If there was a problem with a client, they would stay there and take care of it ... They were incredible people.”
Morris Mobile Meals delivers nutritional meals daily to those who cannot cook for themselves. A physician’s order is necessary to be a client in the program, and the meals are individually prepared by the Morris Hospital cafeteria staff to meet the special needs of the doctor-specified diets. There is a charge for the meals.
Much like mail, the meals must go out rain or shine or even blizzard, and Orndorff said the volunteers who pick the meals up at the hospital and deliver them to houses and apartments are very conscientious about their jobs.
“I remember two winters ago when we had day after day of blizzards and snow,” she said. “They called it the polar vortex. We had many, many inches of snow on the ground, and I’ve got to give credit to Ritchie Brothers Auctioneers, because they took those first two weeks in January, and they did all three routes.
“These big, young guys would come in and say, ‘No problem, Char, we’ll get 'em out.’ It was just a wonderful experience.”
Orndorff said she still has a picture of New Community Christian Church’s Julie Lardi marching in one snowy day all bundled up and grabbing the carriers, telling Orndorff not to worry, that the meals would get to their destinations.
Many times, it’s the children of Mobile Meals clients who sign a parent up for the program.
“They want to give their parents the best possible everything,” Orndorff said, “and they know that with Mobile Meals, they not only have good, healthy food from the hospital, but a person who comes in and makes sure they’re OK. That is a big deal to a lot of families.”
Morris Mobile Meals board President Sue Morse said when the board hired Orndorff two decades ago, it was a great fit, and it continued to be for all those years.
“This lady just took it and ran with it,” Morse said. “We hardly knew she was there. Everything just ran so smoothly. She was just so willing to do the job, and she did it to the best of her abilities. She carried on what we started so many years before just beautifully.”
Morse said Orndorff’s replacement, Gretencord, is already much appreciated by the board, volunteers and clients.
“She’s a people person, like Char,” Morse said. “I prayed and prayed for God to send me the right person. I think I’ve found her now.”
Gretencord knew what Mobile Meals was all about when she applied for the position. She had volunteered for the organization through her church. She and her husband recently became empty nesters after raising six children, she said, and the opportunity seemed like a perfect one that came at the perfect time.
“It seemed like a great opportunity for me to be a part of something I enjoy,” she said. “It’s going really well. The clients have been amazing, the volunteers have been incredibly helpful, the nutritional services staff have been really kind in this transition, and Char has also been incredibly supportive.”
Gretencord said she knows she has some big shoes to fill and hopes she can continue Orndorff’s legacy.
“I hope that I can serve this program with as much grace and integrity as they’re accustomed to,” she said.
HOW TO HELP
Morris Mobile Meals is currently in need of volunteers and monetary donations. For more information, call 815-545-6869.