They deliver so the homebound can be nourished

At age 89 and 85, Ron and Fay Scheel deliver hot meals to Grafton folks in need, even on the snowy days of winter

Ron and Fay Scheel have delivered meals for 15 years to Grafton seniors who are homebound. They transport hot meals in a large insulated bag and unheated meals in a cooler. Photo by Sam Arendt
Ozaukee Press staff

The demand for takeout food has skyrocketed during the Covid-19 pandemic, but Ron and Fay Scheel were decades ahead of that trend.

The retired couple who lived in Grafton for 30 years still get to visit their old community one Thursday a month through Ozaukee County’s home-delivered meals program.

They have journeyed across the village and town of Grafton since 2006, and before that they covered the Cedarburg area bringing hot meals to those 60 and older who don’t drive and need help with taking care of themselves.

Ron, 89, said “It gets us out of the apartment and gives us something to do, especially during the pandemic.”

His wife, 85, said their work means more than that.

“It’s a way of giving back to the community too,” she said.

The pair usually deliver 12 to 15 meals, but last week they transported 18.

The deliveries take anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes, and each one may be different. Some people come to the door and others the Scheels don’t get to see. Instructions may have them knock on the door, announce “meals” and put the food on a table inside.

Some are repeat customers, but the nature of the volunteer gig doesn’t allow the Scheels to get to know their clientele.

“It’s obvious they want to talk to us, but we can’t. We’ve got to deliver other hot food,” Ron said.

There is, however, enough interaction to know what they’re doing is meaningful.

“Most of them are so appreciative of you bringing them their dinner. Some tried to offer candy and soda. They’re all so sweet,” Fay said.

Each person receives a hot meal at lunchtime — their main meal of the day — and a bag of unheated food that many save for supper.

All the trays are stacked in an insulated bag, and the cold food is kept in a cooler. Fay said they used to be able to see what they were serving through clear covers but now the covers are colored and they have no idea what they’re delivering.

“We just work here,” she said with a laugh.

But their work is no joking matter. For Grafton meal site manager Lynn Crevecoure, consistent volunteers are a gift.

“It’s a relief that they do it. They’re reliable. I can just put their name here once a month,” she said as she looked at her calendar.

Crevecoure has a list of substitutes and even has filled in herself in emergencies, but she is always looking for volunteers.

Ozaukee County Aging Services Manager Kari Dombrowski said the county is one of the few in the state that doesn’t pay staff to deliver meals.

Last year, more than 39,000 meals were delivered.

“The volunteers were a big part of that,” she said.

During the pandemic, contactless deliveries were done while volunteers maintained social distancing. Between 160 and 175 meals are delivered per day.

While the Scheels are part of that, it’s far from their first volunteer rodeo.

The couple first got involved at Lasata Senior Living Campus. Their daughter Kim sparked the volunteering idea through a class at Cedarburg High School.

Fay later transported participants from Portal to evening activities until her vision didn’t allow it. Then she worked with participants in Portal’s art classes, where they created paintings, ceramics and jewelry that they sold at farmers markets and the Chocolate Factory to help support programming.

The Scheels then became connected with the Grafton Senior Center, each hosting separate card-playing groups. Fay’s group played rummy and Ron’s played sheepshead, which once drew 83 people.

“We set up tables in the kitchen and the hallway,” Ron said.

They also took seniors on field trips and shopping for about 20 years before Ron started driving the Cedarburg Senior Center van, which is how he became aware of the meal delivery program.

“The rest is history,” he said.

The Scheels, who have been married for 62 years, picked up more time to volunteer after retiring. Ron retired first in 1992 after a career as chief auditor for M&I Bank in Milwaukee. Fay taught elementary school in Cedarburg.

“She kept working and found out I was having so much fun that a year-and-a-half later she retired,” Ron said.

The couple spends time with their three children, seven grandsons and two great-grandchildren and always aspired to travel but couldn’t go far when they worked.

Once they retired, they hit the road and air. The Scheels have visited Europe, China, Thailand, South and Central America and have been to Africa six times.

“There’s nothing more special than to sleep in a tent on the Serengeti with the animals all around you,” Fay said.

Their tents included a battery-powered lamp that was only to be used if necessary and a whistle in case of emergencies. At night, they heard lions roar so loudly it sounded like they were right next to the tent, but they never had to blow their whistle.

Africa is one of their favorite places to visit. Norway is the other.

“The fjords and mountains are gorgeous,” Fay said.

Now, they travel closer to home, making the 25-minute trip from their assisted living facility in Thiensville to the Grafton Senior Center to pick up hot meals.

Fay, when her vision was better, handled the map and special instructions while Ron did the driving and delivering. Now, Ron does the reading as well.

Snowy weather slows the Scheels but has never stopped them.

To volunteer or for more information on Ozaukee County’s home-delivered meal program, visit



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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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Port Washington, WI 53074
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