Many seniors come daily to the Paris Senior Center to enjoy a healthy, hot meal and social time with friends. However, not every senior can make it to the center. That is where the Mattingly Family comes in.

*Editor’s Note: This story is an installment in a 13-week series highlighting volunteers and organizations that benefit from United Way funding in the Hannibal area.

Three generations of the Mattingly Family live out the United Way of the Mark Twain Area’s motto to Be the Change by delivering meals to local senior citizens for the Paris Senior Center every Friday.

At the heart of Paris, Mo., sits the Paris Senior Center, which has become the lifeblood of this rural Monroe County town. Each month more than 2,500 meals are prepared at the Paris Senior Center and enjoyed by local seniors.

Many seniors come daily to the Paris Senior Center to enjoy a healthy, hot meal and social time with friends. However, not every senior can make it to the center. That is where the Mattingly Family comes in.

For eight years, Gale Mattingly has been delivering meals for the Paris Senior Center around the town of Paris. His wife, Sue, and their son, Jason, started joining in on Fridays assisting with this meal delivery.

Two years ago, Jason’s son, Brandon, now 9 years old, started delivering meals with the rest of the family.

“At first he used to just ride along and boss us,” shared Brandon’s grandpa, Gale. “Now though he’s a lot of help.”

During the school year Brandon looks forward to not having school on Fridays so he can deliver meals with his family. Now that it is summer, Brandon can be found every Friday delivering meals.

For many individuals who receive meals from the Paris Senior Center, the only person they see during the day is the person delivering their hot meal.

“People need to have contact with people everyday,” said Gale Mattingly. This meal delivery provides that opportunity for many local individuals.

There have been strong relationships established between the Mattingly Family and some of the individuals that receive meals. Sue bakes cookies for some of the seniors they have become close with over the years. “One man gave Brandon $20 for his birthday,” shared Gale.

The meal delivery is twofold. Not only does the Mattingly Family have the opportunity to serve a vulnerable population by delivering meals, but they also get to have this experience together.

“It’s nice to be together and do something good,” shared Sue, Brandon’s grandma. She explained this has become a family tradition. “Kids need to learn that other people need help,” she added.

The family has gained a deep respect from Tara Garside, Administrator of the Paris Senior Center.

“I feel like the Mattingly family’s motto should be from our family to yours with love,” Garside said.

“We’re all going to get old someday,” Gale said, “We will all need someone to take care of us then.”

Through their work delivering meals at the Paris Senior Center, the Mattingly Family lives out the United Way’s Moto to “Be the Change.” To learn more about the United Way visit http://unitedwaymta.org.

Denise Damron is the Executive Director of the United Way of the Mark Twain Area.