Longtime Meals on Wheels volunteer Linda Koniar honored

By Jessica Vaughn
Posted 3/1/21

FOLEY - Linda Koniar attended the Feb. 15 Foley council meeting prepared to recount the history of Meals on Wheels. She didn’t know it was a ruse to get her to the council, where awaited a surprise …

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Longtime Meals on Wheels volunteer Linda Koniar honored

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FOLEY - Linda Koniar attended the Feb. 15 Foley council meeting prepared to recount the history of Meals on Wheels. She didn’t know it was a ruse to get her to the council, where awaited a surprise celebration and donation in her honor.

“One very special and dedicated volunteer is the City of Foley’s very own Linda Koniar,” Mayor Pro-Tem Charlie Ebert read from a proclamation. “She has spent countless hours with many interrupted dinnertimes of her own, and devoted her heart and effort to the Meals on Wheels program for over 40 years. When the calls come in, she does not hesitate to respond, and she plans to continue to do so.”

Meals on Wheels is a national nutrition program created for seniors 60 years or older who are no longer able to cook for themselves. Volunteers deliver meals to clients’ homes five days a week and keep a constant connection with the client.

Koniar began volunteering with the program in 1980, when there were approximately 15 clients. She, along with her husband John, former Foley mayor, coordinated deliveries with the clients and created routes for the volunteer drivers. At the time, the phone number connected to Meals on Wheels in Foley was the Koniar’s home phone, and Linda and John, along with their two children Mell and Todd, took calls for the program.

Today, the program has grown and operates under Ecumenical Ministries. Fifty meals are delivered in Foley a day five days a week, totaling around 13,000 meals delivered each year. Two drivers set out each morning from behind South Baldwin Regional, one heading east on Highway 98 to Elberta and back, the second heading west on Highway 98 to Magnolia Springs and back.

“Linda has been the coordinator of the Meals on Wheels program for 40 years as a volunteer,” said Sue Kimsey, a volunteer with the program. “Most people work for a company or a city for 40 years, and this is a volunteer who has put her heart, soul, passion, persistence and her humility in it … If you take 40 years of Meals on Wheels, and let’s say if it was the same as 50 meals a day, that would be over half a million meals served. If you back it up a little bit to perhaps only 100 meals delivered a week, that’s still 400,000 meals served. So Linda Koniar has been part of serving half a million meals, and if you take the 40 years times days, she’s served meals for 10,400 days.”

Kimsey then announced the second surprise. A fundraiser has been going on since July 2020. With the funds collected, a new van was purchased for the Meals on Wheels program to replace an older model. The van has been named “Linda” and is now being used to serve meals to those in need within the community.

“I’m not anything but overwhelmed, thank you so much for this honor and this new truck,” said Koniar. “I love it, and everyone who contributed to that, that’s precious, thank you once again for a good organization that has done so much work for our community … It’s been a real worthwhile thing to do and I’ve enjoyed it. It’s a great way to give back to the community.”

To learn more about Ecumenical Ministries and Meals on Wheels or if you’re interested in volunteering or know someone who could benefit from the program, visit www.baldwinemi.org/our-programs.