Longtime Meals on Wheels director retires, successor named

The longtime director of the Meals on Wheels program retired in May after a career of providing services to seniors for more than 30 years.

Marcee Woffinden, the senior nutrition services director at Senior Life Resources Northwest, retired May 31 after more than 17 years at the Richland-based agency.

Woffinden, 62, served as the aging services director in Cash County, Utah, for 15 years prior to her arrival in the Tri-Cities.

She said it’s been an honor to serve seniors for more than three decades.

“My goal with both jobs was to leave the place better than I found it,” she said.

Woffinden oversaw the planning and opening of new kitchens in Utah and Richland.

The Richland commercial kitchen opened on Fowler Street in 2016.

Woffinden led the Meals on Wheels program through an incredible period of growth; the number of meals served per year has doubled — from 100,000 to 200,000 — and the number of volunteers, who are the life blood of the program, has grown from 170 to 435, said Grant Baynes, executive director for Senior Life Resources Northwest.

“Most significantly, Marcee led with her heart, never losing sight of our mission to serve some of the most vulnerable adults in our community, providing nutrition, social contact and a sense of respect and value for those who often feel they are a burden and of limited worth. She has recognized that our Meals on Wheels staff, paid and volunteers alike, bring the full value of our program to life, making our community a better place to live for us all,” Baynes said.

The Mid-Columbia Meals on Wheels program serves 600 meals daily.

“I don’t think people realize the significance of the hunger issue for seniors. The numbers are exploding,” Woffinden said, noting that one in six seniors nationwide is hungry.

She said year-over-year program growth has spiked 20 percent this year. The agency typically sees 6 percent to 10 percent growth annually.

The reason? The age wave is being felt locally, she said.

Woffinden’s team includes 30 employees, four of whom are full-time workers.

Woffinden plans to see more of her family in retirement, including her 13 grandchildren, a mother in assisted living and a disabled brother. She’s already signed up for water aerobics classes and will be going on a backpacking trip later this summer.

Kristi Thien, the nonprofit’s former lead home meal assessor, is Woffinden’s successor.

“I’ve been mentoring her for a year. She’s going to be great,” Woffinden said.

Baynes said Thien is well prepared for her new role.

“The program will be in great hands, as we face the challenges of greater demand and fewer funds from traditional sources. Her team is sad to see Marcee retire but know that it is well deserved and hard-earned. They have embraced Kristi as their new leader,” Baynes said.

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