Finding a need

Friday, December 19, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 3:54 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

In 1987, Donald Van Dyne designed a home specifically for a handicapped couple. Little did he know that 15 years later he would need the wider doors and hallways, lower light switches and a stair-less home for himself.

On March 23, 2002, Van Dyne had a stroke that paralyzed the left side of his body.

Nearly two years later, the 60-year-old Van Dyne has learned to walk again, though many doctors believed he never would survive.

With the help of a therapist, the left-handed Van Dyne is learning to use his left arm again.

His daughter, Stacia, credits much of her father’s recovery to his never-ending positive attitude.

“For me, every day is a great day,” said Van Dyne, a former MU professor. “I thought when I had my stroke that maybe that wasn’t such a good day. But then I thought about it, and I decided that I had a stroke, but I didn’t die, so maybe it was a great day after all.”

Even though Van Dyne tries to live as independently as possible, Stacia prepares two meals a day for him. But when she’s at work, Van Dyne receives his lunch from Boone County Meals on Wheels.

He is among 7 percent of Meals on Wheels recipients who pay the full $5 for one lunch meal per day.

The program uses that money to subsidize meals for 20 percent of the people who pay nothing. Director Marcia Walker says Columbia Meals on Wheels serves about 160 people a day. The average cost of a meal was $1.40 in 2002.


Van Dyne pulls a tomato off his hamburger. His daughter, Stacia, says, ‘Meals on Wheels is just an unbelievably great program.’

“A common misconception is that we only serve the elderly and the poor, and that’s just not true,” Walker said. “What makes us unique is that we serve people of any age and any income level.”

Wish Box

GROUP: Meals On Wheels

SUMMARY: “We’re here to help individuals of any age and of any socioeconomic level who need assistance in purchasing and preparing food,” said Marcia Walker, director of the Columbia program. About 150 volunteer drivers deliver meals to about 160 people every day in the Columbia area.

CONTACT: Marcia Walker at 886-7665. Donations may be taken to Truman Veterans Hospital, 800 Hospital Drive.

WISH: Donald Van Dyne’s Christmas wish is to be more like he was before he had the stroke and to have more of his physical and mental capabilities. Marcia Walker’s wish for Meals on Wheels is to have more substitute drivers who can deliver two times a month or who have vehicles to drive during inclement weather. Meals on Wheels also needs donations to cover the cost of meals for those who can’t pay the full cost.

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