MERRILLVILLE | Merrillville resident Gloria Olesen was expecting her regular delivery from Meals on Wheels of Northwest Indiana on Thursday morning, but she wasn't aware of the significance associated with the meal.
Olesen received the 6 millionth meal delivered by the organization.
"6 million, oh brother," Olesen said after receiving the food.
The meal came with flowers and a balloon to celebrate the organization's milestone.
Olesen, who has been a Meals on Wheels client for about five years, felt "very honored" to receive the 6 millionth meal.
Being associated with the milestone wasn't required for Olesen to understand the importance of the organization, she said.
She relies on Meals on Wheels because she has difficulties preparing her own meals, she said.
"It's like a blessing to me because I really need them," she said.
Reaching 6 million meals was especially important for Margot Clark, who founded the organization in 1977.
When Meals on Wheels of Northwest Indiana started, it was delivering three meals each day. It currently provides more than 1,500 meals daily throughout the area, Clark said.
"We could feed a lot more," said Clark, who currently serves on the organization's board of directors.
She said there are some people who have an incorrect perception that Meals on Wheels only provides food to low-income residents.
Clark said there are many clients who rely on the organization because they don't have relatives who live nearby.
Longtime volunteers Pauline and Bob Bielak, who delivered the 6 millionth meal, said the organization provides more than food to clients.
Bob Bielak said volunteers and staff provide well-being checks when they drop off food.
Pauline Bielak recalled the first time she went on a Meals on Wheels delivery route.
She said she wasn't a volunteer at the time, but a driver needed her assistance, so she decided to help.
During a stop at a client's home, Pauline Bielak and the volunteer discovered the client had fallen and was unable to get on her feet.
They were able to get assistance for the woman.
The woman lived with her daughter, but her daughter was at work when they made the delivery, Pauline Bielak said.
If Meals on Wheels weren't there, the woman would have had to wait several hours before her daughter returned home and could help her.
"That made a believer out of me," Pauline Bielak said.
She became a volunteer and has been with the organization for nearly 36 years.
Pauline Bielak later recruited her husband, Bob Bielak, who has been a volunteer for 25 years.
Call (219) 756-3663 for information about Meals on Wheels of Northwest Indiana.