April 5, 2021 – “The years and the miles have added up fast,” said Everette Burkard, as he celebrates his 30th anniversary as a Meals on Wheels volunteer driver. “I signed up in 1991, after retiring from a 40-year career with the Federal Civil Service. “I never imagined that volunteering would become a lifestyle, but it certainly has for me.”

On the road again, Everette Burkard prepares to deliver meals to Nevada County homebound seniors in the Meals on Wheels program. Recently adopted dog, Gabby, likes to ride along. Photo by Cynthia Martin.

In earlier years, his wife Faye would accompany him on his delivery routes. After she passed, Burkard’s 100-year-old dad, Oscar, would occasionally join him. “Helping homebound seniors is rewarding in a very personal way. The connection goes well beyond simply providing food. It’s an opportunity to make sure the people on your route are healthy and safe,” he explained. “Many become friends. For example, one elderly couple had a playful, Miniature Poodle named Annie. While delivering meals, I’d often take a moment or two to throw a ball or toy for her to fetch. Eventually, her owners had to move to a convalescent home, and it looked as if Annie would be placed in a shelter. By that time, I’d become so fond of the little dog that I took her, and she lived to the ripe old age of 18. For the 12 years I had her, Annie insisted on helping me deliver meals. Maybe it was her way to pay it forward.”

Besides his dedication to Gold Country Senior Services Meals on Wheels program, Burkard was part of Rough and Ready’s Volunteer Fire Department for five years. What he may be best known for, however, is heading the big-hearted Fruit Jar Pickers band for almost 20 years. A talented Dobro player, he was one of the band’s founding members. The group performed free of charge each Sunday morning in Rough and Ready, and then at local assisted living facilities and convalescent hospitals in the afternoons. “We always encouraged people to sing along to songs they knew—maybe old-time gospel or country tunes. The sense of connection was magical. It was not at all unusual to see Alzheimer’s patients recalling the lyrics, and smiling as they sang with us.”

Whether it’s behind the wheel of his Subaru or behind his Ephiphone Dobro guitar, Everette Burkard is determined to continue volunteering and supporting our senior community.

“Since National Volunteer Appreciation Week runs from April 18th to the 24th, now’s the perfect time to acknowledge all volunteers,” said Gold Country Senior Services Director Janeth Marroletti. “Those who donate their energy and expertise to meaningful causes are the heart of every community. While they make a huge difference to others, volunteers also enhance the quality of their own lives. For many, it’s a way to stay connected and build friendships. It can also be a way to stay fit and active. In other words, volunteering is about both giving and getting, and everyone benefits. Give volunteering a try and you’ll create a positive impact on your community, as well as in your own life.”

Nevada County has many volunteer opportunities—from helping seniors, teenagers and children to helping pets. You can help safeguard our local history, as well as our environment, and more.

Gold Country Senior Services has served Nevada County’s older residents since 1976, with programs that support their health, wellness and independence. Marroletti added, “and we owe a huge thank you to our volunteers.”

For further information, visit www.goldcountryseniorservices.org