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Meals on Wheels scores new wheels

Michael Castellana of SEFCU, right, Tom Urtz of ShopRite, middle, and Shannon Cruz of ShopRite, left, joined members of Seniors Services of Albany and MOW to present a new van and 1,000 emergency meals.

Michael Castellana of SEFCU, right, Tom Urtz of ShopRite, middle, and Shannon Cruz of ShopRite, left, joined members of Seniors Services of Albany and MOW to present a new van and 1,000 emergency meals. Alyssa Jung

— Before the theft, MOW had a delivery fleet of 13. Many of those vehicles are old with lots of miles, though, so the newly donated van is an even sweeter surprise.

“Having a newer vehicle helps us, especially in winter months. We don’t have to worry about vehicles breaking down now with a reliable means of transportation,” said Vancavage.

Without SEFCU’s donation and lacking the financial means to acquire a replacement van on its own, Vancavage said Senior Services would have “hit the pavement” to solicit community help.

“We would have just gone out … talking to the community about the support we need for vehicles, which we’re always doing,” said Vancavage.

In fact, most of the vehicles are donated by people who no longer need them, which is why they tend to be older models. MOW has a fleet of 13 and Senior Services has a fleet of seven to drive clients to appointments, the store or to visit friends.

“Typically, once a vehicle really gets worn out on the transportation side, if it’s replaced by something newer that older vehicle will go over as just a delivery vehicle for MOW if it works out,” said Vancavage.

MOW vans travel at least 1,500 miles a day to deliver about 1,000 meals and Senior Services provides about 25,000 transportation trips to seniors each year, said Vancavage.

What Senior Services does in the community each day far outweighs SEFCU’s own contribution to the organization, said Castellana.

“We’re pleased to be able to ride the coattails of these special organizations who just serve people in need,” said Castellana. “It’s really those organizations that do the heavy lifting and support our community.”

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