In his day job as a financial adviser at Edward Jones Investments in Beachwood, Dale Braun works with clients to gain an understanding about what is important to them.
“Then I use an established process to build a personalized strategy to help them achieve their goals,” Braun said.
Some clients come to him wanting to prepare for retirement or live in retirement. Others want help managing their money so they can put their children or grandchildren through school when the time comes.
“Then I partner with them to help keep them on track,” Braun said. “That’s kind of it in a nutshell.”
In his free time, Braun volunteers with Meals on Wheels, which operates across America and primarily addresses senior hunger and isolation.
The Solon resident became involved with the organization about two years ago, quickly becoming president of the Shaker Heights, Beachwood and University Heights branch.
He said he was first approached by the organization’s director.
“They were looking to expand the board of directors and she had asked me if I’d be interested in being on the board,” Braun recalled. He said yes. “And at that meeting is when they said we’re also looking for a new president and I got nominated and then elected.”
In an interview with the Cleveland Jewish News, Braun spoke about Meals on Wheels, the people it benefits and volunteer opportunities at the organization. The interview has been edited for brevity.
CJN: How long have you been president of Meals on Wheels Shaker Heights, Beachwood, University Heights?
Braun: About two years ago I became the president and it was a two-year term. I’m still president until we find a new one.
CJN: Why do you feel an organization like Meals on Wheels was an important one to serve?
Braun: There’s a need out there for people that maybe aren’t able to prepare their own meals on a regular basis or even on a daily basis. So Meals on Wheels is a great organization that helps provide communication with the outside, because a lot of these people are at home and some of them may not be able to get out easily. So it provides ... interpersonal experiences, from that perspective. And we provide high quality, nutritious meals for those people that need that, and it is pretty inexpensive. Every delivery of each meal is going to consist of a hot meal (and) there’s going to be a cold meal, as well. That is going to be like a deli sandwich and some fresh fruit. Two meals per day (and) it’s $6.75 a day. So we deliver three days a week: Monday, Wednesday, Friday. If there’s a holiday, we adjust it. We really aren’t doing a whole lot on the weekend any longer, but we’ll deliver a weekend package on Friday to cover Saturday and Sunday for those that need it. It’s really gotta be special circumstances, because we are looking for more volunteers to help with some of the deliveries and so that’s why we struggle a little bit on the weekends.
CJN: How has the organization changed under your leadership?
Braun: We’ve added some new board members to help bring different ideas to the organization to help figure out how can we help raise funds so that we can help to subsidize the cost of these meals, and that’s been helpful. We’re struggling with fundraising with the tax changes. Like many organizations, people still donate, (but) we’ve seen a little bit of a decline in the donations. Even though it is a great source of helping people in the community that need the food. But we’ve seen other ideas on how we can help to fundraise, so we’ve added some social media to it. We now have our Facebook page that we put out there, for example. And starting, actually, this month, Geraci’s (Pizza), all three of their locations: Mayfield Village, University Heights and Pepper Pike, are going to donate every Monday in December. They’re going to donate a portion of their proceeds to Meals on Wheels to help us. It’s really generous of them to do that.
CJN: What don’t most people realize about Meals on Wheels?
Braun: Most people don’t realize that we’re self-funded and subscriber funded. We’ve never been funded by the government, at least not our chapter. The other thing that people don’t realize is that this isn’t just for people that are on a limited income. This can be for anybody that just needs a nutritious meal delivered to their home. For example, if someone just had hip surgery and they get released and they go home, but they can’t necessarily get up to make their own lunch or dinner, we can provide that for them – even if it’s just for the next month. So it doesn’t have to be permanent and it doesn’t have to be low income, it can be people of any walk of life with different resources.
CJN: If someone wants to help the organization, how and where can they?
Braun: If somebody would like to volunteer, whether it be to deliver or to work in the kitchen, just give us a call at 216-991-6376 and there’s a voicemail on that telephone. So if we can’t pick up right away, we will call back within 24 hours. Let us know that you’d like to learn about a volunteer opportunity.
CJN: How has your faith affected your decisions at Meals on Wheels, if at all?
Braun: My parents brought us up to try and give back to the community. So from that perspective, and I know that’s part of our faith as well, but I would say it’s probably more my parents that influenced me than anything else.