Leona is a fun-loving soul who loves to talk with people and learn about them.
Before retiring, Leona was a home healthcare worker in Michigan. She also worked for Missouri Home Care for seven years before she retired. She said working with Meals on Wheels reminds her of her work with home healthcare because of the service the program offers senior citizens.
Because of a major heart attack she suffered years ago, she said she could no longer do home healthcare. One day a friend asked her if she wanted to help her deliver meals. So, Leona gave it a try, and, today, it keeps her active while taking care of seniors by providing meals.
She said it's kind of like the home healthcare work she used to do. "I check on the people and make sure they're all right and make sure they're eating. Some of them want to sit and talk," Leon said, but that's all right with her.
Leona not only volunteers during the day by riding on routes to deliver meals, she also drives her own van back towards the Gatewood community, just across the Oregon-Ripley County line, to deliver frozen meals to seniors in the afternoon.
"I put anywhere from 250 to 260 miles a week on my car," Leona said.
Because she uses her own vehicle, she is paid mileage through the South West Missouri Agency on Aging office.
Four days out of the week, Leona starts her afternoon route around 1 or 1:30 p.m. and doesn't get home until around 5 or 6 p.m. On Monday she delivers to nine people.
"Tuesday is my really long one," Leona said. She delivers meals to 14 homes on that day.
"My Wednesday route is my 142 route," Leona said. On this route she said she goes by the Gatewood school and doesn't get home until around 6:30 p.m. or 7 p.m.
"I've only got six on Thursday. That's my short day," Leona said.
She said she moves those she delivers to on her routes to different days if she needs to so she can spend more time with those who might need the company. "It don't bother me none," Leona said. "I just move them around so I can spend time with them because most of the time I've got several (people) that that's (visiting with them) is what they want."
Those on Leona's routes can be very protective of her. "If I don't show up, they're on the phone trying to find out where I'm at and what's wrong, and some of them will call me at home," Leona said.
"They're all my friends," Leona said. "I can't take them all home (with me), but they're all my friends."