Sydney Timmerman, a senior at University of Wisconsin-Stout majoring in human development and family studies, enjoys hearing people’s stories and helping them.
That’s why her internship at the Dunn County Aging and Disability Resource Center is a perfect fit.
As part of her semesterlong position, Timmerman talks with county residents receiving Meals on Wheels at their homes and at congregate meal sites about how to improve the services. She also helps pack Meals on Wheels on Mondays at Tantara Apartments in north Menomonie.
“I liked initially that the internship was at the Dunn County Community Services building with human services,” Timmerman said. “I’ve been able to shadow a lot of the departments, including Veterans Service and behavioral health. I just shadowed crisis management and learned the process they must go through. I am interested in mental health a lot.”
Timmerman picked human development and family studies, http://www.uwstout.edu/programs/bs-human-development-and-family-studies, because she enjoyed how she could personalize the major.
“It’s more of a social science,” Timmerman said. “You’re working with people and getting to know people and how they think. I love hearing people’s stories. A lot of people don’t feel heard. I want to be a person they feel heard with and help find them the resources they need.”
Timmerman didn’t realize the ADRC not only helped senior citizens but also those with disabilities and helps set up guardianships, if needed.
The internship has given her more knowledge and experience in social work case management. She has shadowed long-term care visits, where information is gathered to see how a client is faring. This may include checking how often they are bathing, making meals and able to get around.
“We get an idea how well they can live on their own,” Timmerman said.
She has found that most feedback from Meals on Wheels recipients and at congregate meal sites is positive. “Overall, they are very grateful we have the service,” Timmerman said. “They can get home meals delivered and not have to leave the house. At the congregate sites they really like the socialization and getting to see and eat with others.”
Bobbette Tunnyhill, ADRC nutrition program coordinator, said Timmerman is doing is very important work because collecting Meals on Wheels data can be time-consuming and the ADRC has limited financial resources.
“She’s helping people who may have a hard time holding a pen or difficulty hearing, and she is sitting down and getting their opinions,” Tunnyhill said. “It makes them feel heard too.”
Dunn County has seven congregate meal sites: two in Menomonie, one each in Colfax and Eau Galle and contracts with restaurants in Knapp, Ridgeland and Sand Creek. Most sites are open five days a week. About 200 meals are served each day between the congregate sites and those delivered to homebound seniors by drivers.
Participants in Meals on Wheels must be at least 60 years old, homebound, unable to travel to a meal site and have difficulty preparing a meal. Congregate meals are available to everyone at least 60 years old, with a suggested donation of $4 per meal to help fund the programs.
“With congregate meals sites it is more about socialization,” Tunnyhill said. “They come to congregate sites to see friends and family. Nutrition is a plus but not the number one reason they go there.”
Meals on Wheels provides a nutritious meal delivered to seniors’ homes. “We’re a friendly wellness check on that person every day,” Tunnyhill said. “Often the meal delivery person is the only person seniors will see all day.”
Timmerman, of Green Bay, graduates in May. She chose UW-Stout because she liked the atmosphere of Menomonie and UW-Stout’s facilities.
After graduation she wants to either work in human resources, which fits with her minor in business administration, or work in case management in the social services field.
UW-Stout senior Sydney Timmerman packs Meals on Wheel at Tantara Apartments in Menomonie.