North Shore Elder Services (NSES) has named meals driver, Paul Coughlin of Danvers, as the 2018 Lynah-Carter Award recipient.
The Lynah-Carter award is given to a staff member who best exemplifies what it means to go above and beyond without thought of recognition or reward (named after 2 employees whose selflessness helped others at NSES to keep their jobs during a difficult economic time). A fellow staff member, Anne Gold, works closely with Paul on a daily basis and nominated Paul.
“He is a kind and caring man who goes out of his way every day to make the life of the people he serves a little easier. Paul is the epitome of the NSES motto “Life Made Easier.” Many of the elders he visits every day are able to stay in their home because they receive a meal from Paul and a daily wellness check for the families that depend on him.”
Paul has been a Meals Driver for over three years. He had retired at the age of sixty-four, after thirty-seven years of employment, from the Massachusetts State Legislature for the Senate Clerk’s Office as supervisor of the print shop. His retirement from the working world did not last more than a few months. A friend at the Peabody Council on Aging suggested he apply for a meals driver position and he started in his new career immediately.
Paul lives in Danvers with Beth, his wife of thirty-eight years. He has a daughter and a son, along with a young grandson. Paul is a navy veteran serving in Vietnam as a trained navigator on a repair ship. One of Paul’s great joys is singing, which he has done since his boyhood days with his twin brother in the boys’ choir for a church in Salem, before moving onto the men’s choir. He has been singing with the Peabody Council on Aging, “Forever Young Chorus,” for the past six years.
Paul describes himself as a religious man and continues volunteering in various capacities with his church. He sees his job of meal delivery akin to a ministry of sorts. “It makes me realize how blessed I am seeing what some people have to deal with.”
He understands that the job entails more than delivering a meal to someone. “Sometimes just a smile can brighten someone’s day. I might be the only person that elder may see or talk to all day. Sometimes the person is going through a tough time and might just need a few more minutes of my time.”
The job brings challenges but Paul thinks of the job as fun. The hardest part of the job in the beginning was being patient. “People might not be able to get to the door and as a driver you are in a hurry to get all the meals delivered. You have to practice patience and understanding.”
“All the drivers do little extras for people if we can. We might bring in their trash barrels, or their newspapers, or bring dog treats for their pets.”
“If someone was considering becoming a meals driver, I would tell them to treat these people as though it is your own mother or father. After a while, they become like family.”
Part of the meals driver duties is to do a thorough follow through if someone is not at home to accept the meal. “If you are unable to get into the house and you don’t know why there is no one answering the door, you have to do a correct follow up. You want to make sure someone has not fallen inside or had any other type of accident. The driver will call NSES staff and the follow up begins back at the office.”
Jackie H is one of Paul’s meal consumers. She describes Paul as an angel and as a blessing. “I cannot say enough about Paul. He is an extraordinary person. He lifts my spirits. He sings with me. I look for Paul everyday…not just for my meal. He has been an encouragement to me. When I was so worried about a broken shed window, he went out of his way to cover up the break with tape and cardboard.”
Molly Pecukonis is the Manager of the Nutrition Department. “Paul is not only an excellent Meals on Wheels driver, he is really a phenomenal human being. He goes above and beyond the expectations for a Meals on Wheels driver on a daily basis. He will rearrange his entire route to accommodate an elder’s doctor appointments. He will go to the grocery store when he has completed his route to bring a home-bound elder a special treat. Paul is also a team player and is always willing to step up and take on extra stops when his coworkers are out sick to cover their deliveries. He makes us all laugh regularly – which makes the Nutrition department a fun place to work. He has a profoundly positive daily impact on both colleagues and consumers and really brightens our lives. We are very blessed to have such a caring, hard-working person on our team.”
Congratulations to Paul. You bring so much to North Shore Elder Services and your consumers who depend on you.
On Wednesday, February 13, we will be celebrating Paul and other community leaders at our 10th annual We Give Thanks Awards Reception from 6-9 pm at the offices of North Shore Elder Services. If you would like to join in the celebrations, you can purchase tickets at https://nselder.org/event/wgt19/