The Soup Kitchen volunteers who deliver food to Mary Jensen daily as part of the Meals on Wheels program each wanted to take the Boynton Beach resident out for her 100th birthday.
The Meals program coordinator, Sunny Hedrick, said instead of individual plans Jensen should be given one big celebration at the kitchen where instead of eating at home, she would dine out.
“I just can’t believe that this is happening,” Jensen said Wednesday at the kitchen. She wore a silver crown while she sat at the decorated lunch table surrounded by her friends and the volunteers. “I couldn’t be as happy as I am if it wasn’t for you people.”
The volunteers told her the feeling is mutual.
“We get more out of coming to you than you know,” said Jeffrey Eastman, who has volunteered with the kitchen for about four years.
Volunteer Phil Scherer said: “There’s an old saying: What you do for yourself gives you pleasure and what you do for others gives you worth.”
The kitchen’s Meals on Wheels program started about three years ago. Jensen was one of the program’s first deliveries and Enrique Zuanetto, the kitchen’s executive director, was one of her first deliverers.
“She gave me a rose saying I was her boyfriend,” Zuanetto said.
The program, which is free, is for Boynton Beach-area residents who are homebound. Those who use the service cannot have an aide living with them who helps them, Hedrick said. The program can serve about 70 people and has about 50 enrolled.
Those who are part of the program receive meals daily Monday through Friday and can ask for double deliveries for the weekend. The average age of those who are served is 87, Hedrick said.
Jensen said she is always pleased with the food. She usually has a sandwich for lunch and recently started eating only one piece of bread.
“I lost weight. I’m thrilled,” she said.
Jensen doesn’t remember how she learned of the program but is thankful she did. Hedrick said most people learn by word of mouth, and she’s hoping to advertise the program with the help of area homeowners associations.
Scherer, a volunteer for 15 years, said he starts his week off with a delivery for Jensen.
“We sit with her. We talk with her. She tells us stories,” he said. “It’s a wonderful day for me to start the week.”
Jensen told the group about growing up on Long Island in New York and her work as an accountant for an insurance company, a nursery school teacher and a bus driver. But she spent the most time talking about her volunteer work. During World War II she helped pick oranges, apples and lima beans on a farm on Long Island.
“I enjoyed it very much,” she said.
Jensen remembered a motto her mother used to say: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
“I did some good, and look at how these people reciprocated,” she said.