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Voice of the consumer: Silver Key’s Meals on Wheels, other essential services hampered by thievery

Jenna Middaugh
Jenna Middaugh(KKTV)
Published: Mar. 8, 2021 at 7:20 AM MST
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Our 11 News Call For Action team pens a weekly column for our news partner The Gazette. Previous columns can be found here.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - All month long, Silver Key Senior Services is participating in March for Meals. It’s a nationwide celebration of Meals on Wheels.

For decades, the nonprofit has been delivering hot, nutritious meals to low-income seniors through the program.

Throughout 2020′s COVID-19 pandemic, Silver Key said it delivered more than 48,000 meals.

“In the last year, we have experienced a 65% increase in the demand for our services in the Pikes Peak region,” said Derek Wilson, Silver Key’s chief strategy officer. “We have been in awe of the outpouring of support, and there’s still much we can do to ensure everyone in need of our vital lifeline can benefit from being well-nourished and more connected to our community through this challenging time and beyond.”

For more information on how to sign up for meals or to volunteer, you can call Silver Key at (719) 884-2300 or visit www.silverkey.org.

This week, I also have a warning to share. Silver Key says thieves have stolen seven catalytic converters from the group’s shuttle buses and trucks in the last several months. The converters control emissions, and police tell me the criminals steal them to sell the metal inside.

“There’s a value in scrap of the larger ones that I guess it’s worth taking the risk to get under them and take them,” said Jeff Goodwin. He owns Bud’s Muffler, Inc. in Colorado Springs. That’s the auto shop that’s worked on all seven of Silver Key’s vehicles.

Silver Key said five converters were stolen last October. Two more were taken this January. The nonprofit says the thefts are hurting the services it provides for seniors.

“We do around 150 to 180 scheduled rides per day,” Wilson said. “So with just two vehicles here recently that this occurred with, it’s around 20 to 30 rides a day that we’re not able to do for folks who are needing to get to things like dialysis, other essential medical appointments, the grocery store. They’re not able to get that as a result.”

The repairs are expensive. Silver Key says it costs about $1,000 every time a converter is stolen.

“Those would pay for literally dozens upon dozens of meals for seniors, for example. It would pay for dozens of rides,” Wilson said. “It would allow for more seniors to be able to get the behavioral health care services that they need.”

If you know anything about who’s behind this rash of thefts, call Colorado Springs Police at (719) 444-7000. You can make a donation to help Silver Key pay for repairs by visiting www.silverkey.org/donate.

I also wanted to keep the numbers for COVID-19 vaccine questions on your radar. The state health department has a vaccine hotline that’s open 24/7. You can call 1-877-268-2926 for more information. You can also call 2-1-1 or text “vaccine” to 667873 to get contact information for your preferred health care provider to sign up for a vaccine.

You can learn more about the different vaccines and track how many Coloradans have gotten vaccinated on the state’s website at covid19.colorado.gov/vaccine.

Click here to read the original column on gazette.com.

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