SourcePoint Meals on Wheels volunteer Debbie Rickabaugh stands with Dennis, a client at SourcePoint. Rickabaugh learned phrases in American Sign Language so she could keep checking in on him when she had to wear a mask to deliver meals, which meant he couldn’t read her lips.

Courtesy photo | Meals on Wheels of America

A volunteer at SourcePoint was recently selected as the winner of the Meals on Wheels of America’s “Power of Knock” National Volunteer of the Year award, and $50,000 will be donated to SourcePoint in her honor.

Meals on Wheels of America said organizations across the country nominated volunteers, but SourcePoint Meals on Wheels volunteer Debbie Rickabaugh stood out for “going above and beyond in treating a client with the dignity and respect that is a mainstay of Meals on Wheels.”

Rickabaugh said she first got involved in Meals on Wheels about 16 years ago when she saw that snow had cancelled the Meals on Wheels service conducted by SourcePoint, which was called the Council for Older Adults at the time.

“I said to my husband, ‘I can do this, I don’t mind driving in snow. I’ll call and I’ll deliver meals because I didn’t want to see anybody not get a meal or go hungry,’” Rickabaugh said. “That was the start. I didn’t want anybody to go hungry. I’ve been doing it ever since.”

Rickabaugh said she continues to enjoy delivering meals and the interactions she gets to have with clients.

“I enjoy meeting new people and helping them out, and if they have any needs, helping with that,” Rickabaugh said. “It’s interesting the different people you meet when you do this. It’s not work, I enjoy it. It’s fun. It makes my day good, and it makes me happy to help others.”

Rickabaugh said she was told about the award nomination in May but didn’t really know what it was.

“I knew it’d be good for SourcePoint, and I was happy to do it,” she said. “I put it in the back of my head. I didn’t even know it was for volunteer of the year until they sent a video crew that went around with me.”

Rickabaugh’s award focused on her interactions with one SourcePoint client, Dennis, who is deaf. Rickabaugh said they were able to communicate because Dennis could read lips, but when the pandemic started and she had to wear a mask for her deliveries, Rickabaugh had to adapt. So Rickabaugh, who said she had taught her grandchildren some basic words in American Sign Language years prior, got on YouTube and Pinterest to learn more words and phrases to keep communicating with Dennis.

Rickabaugh’s initiative was the basis for her nomination and subsequent award.

“Debbie exemplifies the power of a knock, which she has done upwards of 8,000 times over the years, opening the door to social connections and friendships with her clients,” said Ellie Hollander, president and CEO of Meals on Wheels America. “It’s our honor to recognize volunteers like Debbie – the heart and soul of Meals on Wheels programs. Her story reinforces how Meals on Wheels volunteers deliver so much more than just a meal to homebound seniors, underscoring the importance of human connection. These individual acts of kindness have a multiplier effect and are what makes our collective impact possible.”

Rickabaugh said she was caught off guard by the award.

“I was surprised and shocked because all the volunteers do exceptional things,” Rickabaugh said. “Every volunteer puts their heart and soul into volunteering. I didn’t expect anything. I was really surprised. It was nice to be recognized.”

As part of the award, Home Instead, an Honor Company, contributed $50,000 to SourcePoint in Rickabaugh’s honor.

“Celebrating these volunteers and supporting their Meals on Wheels programs extends our mission to expand the world’s capacity to care,” said Seth Sternberg, Honor co-founder and CEO. “We hope these stories inspire others to check in with older adults in their communities and foster a sense of connection and purpose.”

Rickabaugh said she’s glad to have helped get SourcePoint more support, and she encouraged more people to volunteer at SourcePoint.

“I’m happy for SourcePoint,” Rickabaugh said. “It will make a big difference in Delaware County. I’m just grateful, I guess, for the opportunity to be a meal driver and represent SourcePoint with this honor. The ‘Power of a Knock’ is knowing that you can make a difference to the person on the other side of the door. It doesn’t take much to be a Meals on Wheels driver or any volunteer at SourcePoint, so I’d like to encourage people to be volunteers.”

SourcePoint CEO Fara Waugh said the organization is “honored” to receive the funding, and SourcePoint has seen “unanticipated growth” in the Meals on Wheels program, so they are considering purchasing another van to “extended (their) reach into the community and continue to serve the growing number of older adults who need meals.”

Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903.