Unsung Hero — Deborah Horn

Executive Director, Meals on Wheels Kitsap
Deborah Horn — Resident of Bremerton, married, 3 children and 3 grandchildren
Deborah Horn — Resident of Bremerton, married, 3 children and 3 grandchildren

In 2018, Meals on Wheels will mark 45 years of service to Kitsap County seniors. The nonprofit has 10 community-dining meal sites throughout Kitsap County where seniors can receive a hot, nutritious meal and social interacting, paying a $3 suggested donation. Volunteers also deliver meals to home-bound seniors. Last year, Meals on Wheels Kitsap served more than 860 individuals and provided about 58,450 meals.

Other programs provided by Meals on Wheels include nutrition education and dietary counseling, vouchers for fresh produce at the farmers markets, liquid nutrition supplements, caregiver meals and emergency boxes with shelf-stable food for homebound seniors. The organization has 10 paid staff plus more than a hundred volunteers who collectively contributed more than 10,000 hours to the program last year.

Deborah Horn first learned about Meals on Wheels Kitsap after moving here in 1991. The organization was known as Chuckwagon Senior Nutrition Program at the time, and she had met former Executive Director Julie Pounds through Horn’s work with Hospice of Kitsap County. Since both of these programs provided care and support to Kitsap seniors, the two women often worked together, connecting through senior network meetings and other community events.

In December 2009, Horn’s Soroptimist club adopted Chuckwagon for the holidays and provided Christmas gifts for Chuckwagon’s homebound female clients. When Pounds came to the club’s holiday luncheon to pick up the gifts, she said she was getting ready to retire and invited Horn to consider applying. Horn did — and was hired as executive director in May 2010.

Horn says she loves working in the nonprofit world, which provides her many opportunities to use her education, experience, abilities, skills and connections to make a difference in the lives of others. Her previous roles included director of development and community relations at Peninsula Community Health Services and executive director for Washington State Hospice Organization.

Asked what makes her work worth it, Horn quotes Steve Jobs, who said: “The only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work, and the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”

“What makes this work worthwhile is the impact it has in the community,” she says. “Those daily moments — phone calls from clients complimenting the meals, handwritten notes included with donations acknowledging the friendly visits by volunteers, and family members who come in to the office to share how much they appreciate the safety check and peace of mind provided to their loved ones — are priceless.”

Meals on Wheels Kitsap welcomes the community to celebrate its special milestone next year by volunteering their time, encouraging seniors to have lunch at a community dining site, supporting events or making a financial contribution. For more information, go to www.mealsonwheelskitsap.org.

Why Do this Work

In my Hawaiian heritage, kupunas or elders are respected and revered. Families take care of them as much as they can by providing meals, socialization and other forms of support. There are so many seniors today who are living longer and who want to age in place. Most of them lack the family or resources to do that. Meals on Wheels Kitsap provides healthy, nutritious meals, socialization, safety checks and more to individuals who are 60 and older and helps them stay safe and nurtured in their homes for as long as possible.

Best Part of the Job

The diversity of the work. No two days are alike. One day, I might be working with our board planning an upcoming event or meeting with a community partner and on another, I may be preparing a grant or visiting with clients and volunteers at a community dining site. The highlight of my job is working with a fabulous team of dedicated staff members and volunteers.

Biggest Challenge

Becoming less reliant on government funding through diversification of resources.

Best Compliment on the Job

Thank you for truly making a difference every day!

Things I Can’t Live Without

My family, coffee, jazz music and pedicures.

Best Way to Relax

Enjoying a great meal and conversation with family and friends.

Hobbies Outside of Work

Community volunteering, traveling, cooking and creating stained- and fused-glass art.