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Early in 2020 when the pandemic started, calls for roadside assistance came to a near standstill. But, Michael Montalbano of Five Star Towing in Lodi, NJ still wanted to find a way to help people. So, he and his son-in-law, Joe, began making food deliveries for the local Meals on Wheels assistance program. Each week, they would pick up baskets of food and make deliveries to the list of people on their route.

About 3 weeks after they started, they were unable to reach one of the residents to make her delivery. They contacted the Meals on Wheels program coordinator who was able to reach the person by phone. When they went back to make the delivery, the woman thanked them for coming back and asked if they could deliver her food before 10am. The reason – she only had enough food to get through the night before and had to wait to eat until their delivery the next afternoon.

Michael and Joe made sure she was one of the first deliveries on their route and they would even spend a few extra minutes chatting with her. Eventually, the regular volunteers began returning to work and Michael and Joe’s time delivering for Meals on Wheels came to an end. When they went to make their final stop at the woman’s house, they delivered her food along with a grocery store gift card so she wouldn’t have to struggle to find her next meal for at least a few weeks.

When thinking about the time he spent delivering food, Michael says, “It really touched me to see how some people in my own community struggle every day and I knew I needed to help. While we no longer deliver food to our friend, we continue to stay in touch with her to make sure she is doing ok.”

Michael was a Real Hero of the Road to this woman who had no one else to turn to and needed a little extra kindness. When you’re driving along the highway and you see Michael or a service provider like him working, think of this story and what his generosity meant to Meals on Wheel recipients and the community, and please slow down and move over so they can do their job safely. We need service providers like Michael and so do our members; but most of all, so do their families. Help us keep them safe.

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