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Volunteer honored for years of service

Medford resident Edith Tavalero retired at age 90 from the Food & Friends Senior Meals Program — but she wasn’t done helping senior citizens.

Two years after her retirement, she has logged more than 1,000 hours as a volunteer for the program.

The Jackson County Board of Commissioners recently presented her with the May 2019 Jackson County Community Service award for her continued commitment to Food & Friends. The program operates meal sites in Jackson and Josephine counties. Friendly volunteers also fan out to provide meals and visit with homebound seniors.

“Edith is the kind of volunteer who is truly committed to caring for others — particularly making sure they see a smiling face and receive nourishing food every day,” Commissioner Bob Strosser said. “She puts aside her own needs while volunteering for the benefit of the many seniors who are homebound and rely on this wonderful service.”

Tavalero has been involved with Food & Friends for nearly 20 years. The team delivers more than 16,000 meals per month and serves another 3,000 meals at dining sites, Strosser said.

Commissioner Rick Dyer said Tavalero embodies the truism that the secret to living a long, healthy and happy life is to help others — rather than focusing on oneself.

“I just think it’s absolutely amazing. It’s inspirational,” Dyer said of Tavalero’s long record of service.

Commissioner Colleen Roberts said she appreciates the wisdom and energy Tavalero shares with the community. She noted Tavalero set a high bar for others by retiring at age 90.

Tavalero said the volunteers and seniors she knows through Food & Friends have become like a second family to her.

“It doesn’t seem right that I should be honored for doing something that I love to do every day. I met so many wonderful people,” she said.

The local Food & Friends program, part of the wider Meals on Wheels program, is coordinated by the Rogue Valley Council of Governments.

RVCOG Food & Friends Volunteer Coordinator Jon Pfefferle nominated Tavalero for Jackson County’s monthly community service award program. He said she can regularly be found greeting seniors and volunteers, doing paperwork and otherwise helping out at the Medford meals location in the Southern Oregon Lions Sight and Hearing Center at 222 N. Holly St.

“I nominated Edith not only because she’s a fantastic lady, but because she’s an inspiration to everyone that walks into the room in Medford,” Pfefferle said. “She’s always there. She’s smiling. She does a great job. Everyone knows who she is. She’s like Medford’s lunch lady.”

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or valdous@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @VickieAldous.

Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune Edith Tavalero, a volunteer with the Food and Friends Senior Meals Program at the Lions Sight and Hearing Center, won a community service award.