Skip to content

Volunteer helps seniors to age in place, live independently

'They really depend on Red Cross as a service, because otherwise maybe they wouldn't have a dinner that night,' says Louise McCabe

A few years ago, Louise McCabe went to pick up a lady for a doctor's appointment and found the door open and the lady lying on the floor.

“I thought, ‘Oh my goodness’ and immediately I asked her if she was OK. She said 'yes,' but I said I'm going to call 911,” says McCabe, a volunteer with Canadian Red Cross in Barrie.

McCabe tells BarrieToday that the lady ended up being fine. She felt happy just to have been there, because the lady couldn’t get up.

“It was a sad thing, but a good thing in a way, that I was there like a guardian angel," she says. "We're always on the lookout for if anything should be out of the ordinary.”

McCabe, who volunteers for the Canadian Red Cross Meals on Wheels program, says it didn't take a lot of reflection to join the organization.

Meals on Wheels volunteers deliver meals to people unable to shop or cook in Barrie. | Image supplied

“Why not help an organization that is fabulous to work with, and that helps the community?” she says. 

McCabe says she loves helping people and there were two choices through which she thought she could get back to the community.

“I was either going to do it in a hospital or with Red Cross, and I decided for Red Cross because it helps a lot of seniors,” she adds. “And I was thinking maybe one day I'll need them.”

McCabe was a Red Cross transportation volunteer before starting with Meals on Wheels program.

“I began volunteering as a driver and when the pandemic hit we were all put on hold," :she says. "Then, as things started to open up, I started working and doing volunteering for the program.”

McCabe also notes that the food delivery service program is critically important, because many seniors can't get out to shop or prepare their own meals.

“They really depend on Red Cross as a service, because otherwise maybe they wouldn't have a dinner that night," she says. 

McCabe explains that drivers pick up the meals in coolers at Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH) in Barrie and most of time deliver to the same routes.

“A lot of them are seniors and you get to know that people after a while," she says. 

McCabe says there is one lady that every time she brings her meal, she says it's like a "Christmas present."

“Oh my gosh, it's rewarding to see that they're happy to get these meals. And it takes so little, a few minutes of my day," she adds. 

Typically, McCabe says the route is covered in a little over an hour.

“Sometimes I drive out of town because there is a lack of volunteers, but I don't mind," she says. "We deliver to each resident and then we return to the hospital with our coolers empty and a great feeling.”

The volunteers usually load their car with two coolers – one for hot food, one for cold items – which include packages catered to specific dietary restrictions and health conditions.

“My mother-in-law used the program for few years before she passed away. She loved it," McCabe says.

The prepared meals are delivered for $7.25 per meal in Barrie and once a month the program provides frozen meals.

“Some people order 30 dinners for the whole month,” McCabe says.

With the aging population, she calls for more volunteers to join the program. Currently, there are about 50 active volunteers in Barrie.

“Volunteers are much needed and very appreciated. It doesn't go unnoticed," McCabe says. 

For more information about volunteer positions with Canadian Red Cross in Barrie, call 705-721-3313 or visit