Like clockwork, a volunteer brings to Wilbert Brunson’s front door a hot freshly-prepared nutritious meal, and he counts his blessings that church friends led him to Senior Citizens, Inc.’s Meals on Wheels program.
“Our volunteer, Barbara, is dedicated, punctual, efficient, and very friendly. The program is run so well,” Wilbert says.
The program is one of many that Senior Citizens, Inc. (SCI) based in Savannah, GA, provides in its mission to help people age successfully. Founded in 1959, the organization impacts the lives of 10,000 older adults and their families in Chatham, Bryan, Liberty and Effingham counties through Meals on Wheels, Adult Day Health, The Learning Center and more.
The regular deliveries of meals, friendly visits, and wellness checks started coming to Wilbert’s home when his wife, Eunice, began experiencing memory loss, shortly after they moved to Savannah to retire.
“Eunice was born in Crawfordville, Georgia, so she grew up country. She had two sisters in Savannah and a brother in Atlanta, so she wanted to move to Georgia. I wanted to move to Arkansas, so we ended up in Georgia,” Wilbert says with a laugh.
Wilbert, who was born in Arkansas, met Eunice when he moved to Chicago. Wilbert was in church one Sunday when the pastor asked everyone to introduce themselves to their neighbor. He begrudgingly extended his hand to the man on his right, hoping instead to speak to the young woman visiting that day with “long hair and pretty legs.” Turns out, that young woman, Eunice, had traveled to Chicago to babysit for her aunt and uncle, Wilbert’s seatmate. They dated for a year before marrying in 1959.
Together, Wilbert and Eunice made a family—a daughter, Lamonda, and a son, Ryan. After attending DePaul University for two years, Wilbert worked as a full-time postal clerk, a job that required him to memorize routing schemes. Eunice worked as a computer operator at the First National Bank of Chicago, one of the first Black employees to integrate the company. The couple both retired young—he at age 55 and she at age 50—and had “little jobs” post-retirement. They retired for the final time in 2012 at ages 78 and 75.
Wilbert has too many favorite meals to pick just one, but counts the fish, the Swedish meatballs, and the Italian sausage with onions among the tastiest. He also appreciates the fact that the dinners are nutritionally balanced with fruits, vegetables, and a protein – “no junk food.” Having healthy meals has been especially helpful during COVID.
“Meals on Wheels hasn’t missed any dinners at all, and to be that faithful during a pandemic really says something about the quality of the program,” he notes. “We have hot meals delivered to our door and not everybody has that. We thank the Lord for a program like this one.”
Now 86, Wilbert says he and Eunice, who recently celebrated their 61st wedding anniversary, are truly living up to the phrase the Golden Years.
“There’s a misconception that when you reach 40 years old, you’re too old to live anymore, that life is over when you become a senior,” he says. “But the best parts of life are after age 65! When we got the last kid out of college, Eunice and I went to Hawaii. My love comes from being loved and that is the success of life.”