40 years on wheels
She's been delivering meals for 40 years and she's not about to stop.
Meal on Wheels volunteer Dianne Murphy loves getting grub to her house-bound pals.
"I just find it rewarding. It's nice to have a little chat with them. For some of them it's the only contact with the outside world," the Papatoetoe resident says.
It all started as a way to get out of the house. After her third child Mrs Murphy was hit with agoraphobia – a condition that develops when a person begins to avoid spaces or situations associated with anxiety.
"I saw an ad in the South Auckland Courier and thought I'd go along because while I was with the car I was OK. And I thought `That's something I can do to help' and it ended up helping me."
She recalls setting out in the early days with a friend and their two toddlers in the backseat "swapping raisins, biscuits and books".
Since then she's seen meals go from being delivered in aluminium cans to recyclable containers and payments no longer handled by deliverers. In 2005 her husband Des joined her in a "navigational" role.
The Red Cross service has been operating in South Auckland since 1957 and delivers a whopping 28,000 meals a year from Mangere Bridge across to Howick and out to Manurewa.
Co-ordinator Andrea Sutton says it's getting tougher to find people like the Murphys.
"The time commitment per team delivery is usually around an hour so although a lot of our drivers are elderly and have the time to go during a weekday we also have corporate teams and younger drivers who will deliver in their lunch hour.
"The commitment to Meals On Wheels from drivers such as Dianne is extremely outstanding and truly appreciated."
The couple delivers meals across Papatoetoe once a month. Meals are collected from Middlemore Hospital in the morning, loaded into a large chilly bin in the boot, then delivered.
And they're not planning to stop anytime soon.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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