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HHC Volunteers Deliver Hope and Food  


In 2020, the Hunger and Health Coalition began its mobile delivery program with the help of volunteers taking food to clients all over Watauga County.  


As of May 6, the program has completed 8,074 deliveries across Watauga County; 6,600 of these have went out of First Baptist Church on King Street after HHC relocated its mobile delivery operations in 2021 through a partnership with the church.


A volunteer delivers food to HHC clients.
Candace Kelling-Salzler showcases food donations for the mobile delivery program from First Baptist Church.

Candace Kelling-Salzler has overseen the program since its inception and coordinates all of the deliveries with folks receiving food on a biweekly basis. With around 60 deliveries going out each week, Candace said that having dedicated and dependable volunteers to help deliver food is “invaluable” to her. 


“This program wouldn’t run without volunteer drivers,” Candace said. “I enjoy talking to all of my volunteers. That’s one of the many highlights of my job.” 


Two volunteers that Candace has come to rely on are Frank Plotts and Paul Young. She described them both as caring, enthusiastic and dedicated. Both Frank and Paul have gone above and beyond just delivering food, but also take the time to check in on the clients they’re delivering to as well. 


“To folks that are receptive to conversations, the volunteers really want that connection with people,” Candace said. “It means a lot to the people we’re delivering to and the volunteers. It’s fulfilling to have those connections. Besides my conversation with them every two weeks, that very well could be the only communication they’re having with someone.” 


Originally from Pennsylvania, Frank said he’s moved quite a bit and has lived in places like New Jersey and Kentucky. Each place he has lived he and his wife of 49 years have remained involved in the community. The two moved to Blowing Rock in 2006. After retiring from the construction equipment business, he said he felt moved to get more involved in the community and became a mobile delivery volunteer several years ago. He tries to deliver food at least once a week for HHC and enjoys building relationships with the clients on his route. 

Frank stops by and visits Candace at First Baptist Church to pick up HHC food to be delivered.

“This puts you in direct contact with a lot of people who have a great need, not only for food, but sometimes for conversation,” Frank said.  

 

Frank said he’ll often ask the clients he visits if they need any extra help, such as taking out their trash. He recalled delivering to one client whose neighbors helped to remove a tree that had fallen on her house. Frank was concerned about another tree on the property that could fall on the house and is currently trying to find a group to help remove it for the client. 


 “I think it’s important that not only do we deliver food, which is a big deal because these folks really need the food, but I think there’s more to it,” Frank said. “If we’re going to be engaged with our community, then we need to really engage in community, which means you need to pay attention to what’s going on.” 

 

As someone who also has a strong desire to help people, Paul got involved with HHC’s mobile delivery program in 2022. Having moved from Georgia to Boone at 21 years old, he completed nursing school and fell in love with the “bedside work” of patient care. Paul retired from the Seby B. Jones Regional Cancer Center in Boone where he spent 45 years as a nurse navigator helping patients through their cancer journeys.  

 

Paul said he tries to operate on Humanism principles of “do good, don’t do any harm and work for justice.” 


“The world needs more human kindness, respect, and common decency,” Paul said. “By doing (mobile delivery) I found a group of folks I can help them face to face without making them feel like they’re receiving charity. I love getting to know these folks.”  

 

HHC Community Outreach Coordinator Dianne Tousley helps to fill Paul's vehicle with food to be delivered.

Paul explained that he sees between four to six HHC clients each time he volunteers his time as a delivery driver, which is typically once or twice a week. He said he has one client who he swaps recipes with when he delivers to their home, and another he’ll set aside more time for as the client likes to sit and talk with Paul.

  

Once, Paul notified Candace of a HHC client with a child who was from the Czech Republic and had recently lost her Medicaid. They were able to get the client information on health services provided at the Community Care Clinic. 

 

“Being able to make a difference in the community and connect with our neighbors means so much to me and it’s very fulfilling,” Candace said. She added that mobile delivery means so much to her because some folks in the more rural parts of the county don’t have transportation or easy access to grocery stores.  

 

"If delivery wasn’t available for these folks that have transportation barriers, they would not have any access to food," Candace said. 

 

If you or someone you know could use assistance with food from HHC being delivered, contact Candace at (828) 263-7998. To volunteer as a mobile delivery driver, you can call the aforementioned phone number or contact Candace at candace@hungerandhealthcoalition.com. 

  

 

 

 

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