The Estate of Milton S. Marcus Charitable Gift Fund has donated $600,000 to Madison, to be delivered in installments of $120,000 over five years.
The Madison Board of Selectmen, at their meeting Monday at 7:30 p.m. will discuss and take action on the donation. The agenda for the meeting says the gift "has been identified for the town Meals on Wheels program," which serves home-bound seniors who are unable to cook for themselves.
Marcus, whose family moved to the East River section of Madison in the early 1900s, was a 1949 graduate of Daniel Hand High School, a veteran, a lawyer, and a former Madison town clerk. He also was active in a variety of charitable and non-profit endeavors, according to his obituary in the New London Day.
Town runs the program, and volunteers help deliver
The town runs its own Meals on Wheels program, and it is administered by the Estuary Council of Seniors in Old Saybrook. The meals are made in Clinton and delivered to recipients by volunteers, including some that are recruited through the Madison Food Pantry, said Heather Castrilli, Municipal Agent for the Elderly.
"The meals are made in the Clinton cafe in Clinton Town Hall, volunteers pick them up and they deliver them," Casatrilli said. "There are two routes in town. It's for people who can't make meals on their own, for example people returning from the hospital who are unable to make meals for themselves. Hot meals are delivered around noon-time. We rely heavily on volunteers for the deliveries. Not only is it nice for them to get a nice, warm, home-cooked meal in the middle of the day, it's a great way to be able to check up on them and make sure they are doing OK."
First Selectman Fillmore McPherson said the terms of the bequest were very clear.
Executor very clear that money is to go to Meals on Wheels
"It's for Meals on Wheels, upper case M, upper case W," he said."The letters we got from both the executor on the estate and from Fidelity, which is managing the trust, were very specific about Meals on Wheels."
McPherson said he did not know why, specifically, Marcus donated to the program. "I was taken, pleasantly, by surprise," he said. "I didn't know Marcus that well."
McPherson said the program currently cost the town about $11,000, plus money for mileage to reimburse volunteers who drive and who would like to be paid back for the cost of gas. McPherson, who is a Meals on Wheels volunteer, said that some volunteers like himself opt not to be reimbursed.
Endowment fund might be able to pay for program going forward
McPherson said he is not sure exactly how the funds will be deployed, but he said one plan might be to set up an endowment fund that could pay for program going forward. "But we're just in the talking stages right now," he said.
Vicki Littell, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker who helps coordinates volunteers and deliveries for the Madison Meals on Wheels programs, was thrilled to hear about the donation. She said the program currently serves about 25 to 30 people a day and that the number of people served varies depending on the need.
"Wow! Isn't that wonderful," said Littell, who has helped coordinate the program in town for about 25 years. She said she wasn't sure why Marcus donated to the program, but she said she suspected it was because Marcus had many older clients in town.
"He had a lot of older clients and he cared about his clients in a very big way"
"It's a very valuable service and I think that's what he was after," she said. "You have to remember, he had a lot of older clients and he cared about his clients in a very big way."
Littell said the program delivers a hot meal, along with milk and bread and other sides, once a day to people who need help feeding themselves
"It's the milk and the bread and the meal and some kind of dessert. And, not only that, we talk with the people. It's a connection," Littell said. Volunteers might describe the food to a client who is blind, or help bring in the mail for someone who has trouble retrieving it themselves. "We're not supposed to spend a lot of time there, but our wonderful drivers do connect with people.'
"If we have any questions, we make sure they are OK"
If someone does not answer the door, the driver might try to contact them and, if that fails, the driver contacts Madison Social Services. If they cannot get through, they can contact the local police to go over and check to make sure there is no problem.
"If we have any questions, we just want to make sure they are OK," she said.
Because of the need, Madison Meals on Wheels is currently seeking additional volunteers who can help deliver in the middle of the day, Littell said.There are currently two routes and the program would like to go to three routes, to make sure the meals are still hot when they get to the client.
To find out more, call Heather Castrilli at 203-245-5687 or Vicki Littell at 203-640-9132.