Above: Kristie Wright, Meals on Wheels program assistant, delivers a meal while photographer Jeffery Noble lines up the shot, April 13, 2020
“May you live in interesting times,” goes the old saying, and 2020 has been nothing if not interesting! Last month’s retail issue was disrupted by the closure of “non-essential” businesses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing us to get creative with social distancing and shoot a new cover. This month is our annual focus on the nonprofit community—a topic that resonates today with so many human service professionals on the frontlines of the pandemic.
From alleviating hunger and combating homelessness to providing anti-abuse education, mental health services and much more, nonprofit organizations are always on the frontlines, pandemic or not. Our community depends on their work, even when we don’t realize it. They are our heroes every day. As we showcase their good work in this issue, we wanted our cover to reflect this spirit of everyday heroism—of essential workers continuing to do their jobs while most of the community “shelters in place.”
Since 1971, Meals On Wheels has delivered more than one million meals to individuals who are unable to prepare their own. And they deliver more than food—they bring care, concern and comfort, as well as educational materials, newspapers, pet food (when needed) and social contact (which, as many of us are now discovering, is fundamental to our humanity). We thought the simple act of delivering a meal and good cheer to a homebound individual would stand in for Peoria’s incredible nonprofit community, as well as the central importance of home in the days of COVID-19.
Next we connected with Becky Rossman, CEO of Neighborhood House, which runs the Meals On Wheels program in the Peoria area, and she helped us find a suitable location. On a windy afternoon in mid-April, photographer Jeffery Noble and I met with Rossman; Kristie Wright, Meals on Wheels program assistant; and Trevor Neff, community outreach coordinator, at the home of a very sweet lady in central Peoria. She stood patiently at the door, smiling and keeping her cats inside, while Wright (no relation) delivered the meal and Noble lined up the shot.
Masks and gloves were worn, social distancing was maintained, and we soon had our cover. We hope the words and images in this issue give you a greater appreciation for the everyday heroes in our community. PS
—Jonathan Wright, Editor In Chief