It’s not a typical role for a police officer, but Colchester police are embracing it. They can now add ‘community volunteers’ to their resumes, as they just started handing out meals for Age Well’s Meals on Wheels program.
“We’re bringing them something they’re looking forward to and we’re someone they can talk to,” says Detective Corporal Jack Lehneman.
“It brought a different kind of fulfillment to this job that I wasn’t expecting,” says Det. Cpl. Jeremy Wyskiel.
Every other Thursday, Wyskiel, Lehneman, and their fellow officers go door to door to those needing food in Colchester.
“Corporal Dewey, our K9 officer, has been wanting to do this for quite sometime and he made contact with the Chief and through them, they had decided for us to start delivering meals,” says Lehneman.
It has only been a few weeks since they answered this call from Age Well, a Vermont-based group that’s part of the state’s Agency on Aging, which helps the elderly population in Northwestern Vermont.
“With volunteers being short with Meals on Wheels, we at Colchester Police have taken on a challenge and can help when we can,” says Wyskiel.
Age Well helps the aging impoverished population in Addison, Franklin, Grand Isle, and Chittenden counties. Staff members cite this critical shortage of drivers as the reason they’re reaching out to other entities, such as the police department, that may not be involved otherwise.
“The first two to do it were the Chief and Lieutenant,” says Lehneman. “They’re out there learning the route and getting to know the people and I think it’s great.”
For Lehneman and Wyskiel, seeing the people they protect and serve when there is not an emergency is a welcomed change.
“To go and talk to them in an instance where they’re not calling us because something’s going wrong is a good thing because too often we go see people when there’s something bad going on,” says Lehneman.
He and Wyskiel have a combined 20 years with Colchester PD. At a time when law enforcement officials are often under a harsh spotlight in society, the two men urge people to remember they’re human too.
“We’re going to come when that 911 call comes into the department, but when someone needs food and volunteers are short, we’re going to come and help out there too,” says Wyskiel.
Meals on Wheels currently has 665 volunteers in Vermont, according to Communications Director Sara Wool. They are looking to recruit 60 more. She cites the areas of greatest volunteer need as Burlington, St. Albans, Vergennes, Middlebury, and Swanton.
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