December 26, 2011

Volunteers deliver 231 Christmas dinners

Volunteers deliver 231 meals to homebound

By Leslie Bridgers
Staff Writer

WESTBROOK — The first year that members of the Portland Rotary Club volunteered to deliver Christmas dinners to local residents who were homebound, John Houghton had no idea it would become an annual tradition for his club, let alone his entire family.

click image to enlarge

Tom O’Connor of Portland pulls trays of prepared meals from the oven where they were heated before being delivered Sunday.

Photos by John Ewing/Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

Leah Cantor hands client Ken Luce, 91, a Christmas card made by a Westbrook student after dropping off a ham dinner Sunday at his Westbrook home.

John Ewing

Additional Photos Below

Related headlines

Now, 33 years later, he can't imagine Christmas without it.

"We plan our whole morning around doing this," said Houghton, of Cape Elizabeth, who was joined at the Westbrook Community Center by two daughters and four grandchildren.

Organized by Southern Maine Agency on Aging, dozens of volunteers delivered 231 ham dinners on Sunday to residents of York and Cumberland counties in the Meals on Wheels program.

To qualify for the program, people must be over 60 years old, primarily homebound and unable to regularly prepare nutritious meals, according to the Agency on Aging, based in Scarborough.

About half of the meals were heated by volunteers in their homes and delivered directly to the residents. The rest came out of ovens at the Westbrook Community Center and were delivered by members of the Portland Rotary Club and their families.

Around 11 a.m., groups set out on 18 different delivery routes to Portland, South Portland, Westbrook, Gorham, Scarborough and Falmouth.

Leah Cantor and Greg Shinberg, whose friend works for Meals on Wheels, had volunteered to help prepare the dinners, but when a driver backed out at the last minute, the couple took over the delivery route.

Their first stop was Larrabee Heights, an elderly apartment complex on Liza Harmon Drive in Westbrook.

They knocked on the door of 91-year-old Ken Luce, who was being visited by his two sons, and Paul Barry, 82, who planned to stay home while his partner, Kathleen Poirier, left to visit her daughter.

If it wasn't for the delivered meal, Poirier said, "he'd be having leftovers."

Shinberg and Cantor, who are both Jewish, said they often volunteer on Christmas.

"You need to give back," said Shinberg.

And the payback is instantaneous.

"To bring a smile to someone's face means everything," Cantor said.

Staff Writer Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at:


Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors

Additional Photos

click image to enlarge

Volunteer Greg Shinberg chats with Meals on Wheels client Kathy Porier at her Westbrook home after making a meal delivery on Christmas Day.

John Ewing

click image to enlarge

Greg Shinberg and Leah Cantor had volunteered to help prepare the dinners, but when a driver canceled at the last minute, they took over the delivery route in Westbrook.

John Ewing


Further Discussion

Here at we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)