She’s a good neighbor with an upbeat attitude.
Even though macular degeneration has limited some of Lenora Graham’s activities, she still is able to drive in the area and do one thing she believes is important — deliver Meals on Wheels to her neighbors in Florence.
She’s been doing it for 20 years. At 90 years old, she doesn’t plan to give it up any time soon.
“This is very important for people to receive these meals,” Graham said.
It’s not just the nutrition from the meals Graham is serving.
“Checking on them is almost as important as the meals,” she said.
There used to be a dozen or more meals delivered in Florence, but these days there’s only three. It doesn’t matter to Graham.
“These three people are just as important as if we had 20 people to deliver to,” she said.
A daughter of a meal recipient told Graham that if it weren’t for Meals on Wheels and the daily checking, her mother would not be able to live at home on her own.
Graham’s assigned day is Wednesday. She shares this duty with fellow Florence residents Dale Miller and Ed Robinson, who each deliver two days.
They drive to Marion Senior Center, pick up the meals, and deliver them five days a week. Emergency meals are delivered to the recipients earlier in the winter to fill in when the senior center is closed because of inclement weather, such as this past week.
“Even if people can’t afford it, they still get the food,” Graham said, “and that’s how it’s supposed to be.”
In Graham’s 90 years, she has seen many changes to the community in which she has lived most of her married life.
She was born only a few miles from Florence, married Charles Graham, and has lived in Florence most of the time since.
Graham graduated from Florence High School in 1937 and worked for Dr. John Slifer for a few years.
“Those were the days of home deliveries,” she said.
Charles was stationed for 13 months in Budapest, Hungary, working as a radio operator for the Army. He was called to serve in Michigan during the Korean Conflict and Graham followed him for a time.
The couple adopted two boys — Galen, who lives in San Antonio, Texas, and Gregory of Florence.
When the Grahams returned to Florence, they owned and operated an appliance store for 27 years in Florence.
Graham can recall when Florence had a population of 2,500 people, had five doctors, two banks, three grocery stores, a hotel, and several restaurants.
“I’ve seen a lot of changes,” she said.
Charles died 23 years ago but Graham continues to live in the family home on Grandview Street.
She attributes her longevity and good health to good genes. Her father was one of 12 children.
“They all lived to be in their 90s,” she said. “Living for the Lord has something to do with it, too.”
Graham said she will continue to serve the community and the Lord as long as she can. She knows there are few people willing to drive to Marion to pick up the meals and return to Florence for delivery.
“We used to get gas mileage for delivering but we don’t have enough people now to receive mileage,” she said.
But that’s OK. She’ll continue to help as long as she can. Graham knows the importance of nutrition for her neighbors.
“The meals are helping people live longer and better,” she said. “And I’m proud to be a part of that.”