Meals on Wheels director resigns

COUNTY — The executive director of Pickens County Meals on Wheels is stepping down later this month, the organization announced this week.

Meals on Wheels board of directors chairman Gerald Reese announced in a release Monday that the organization had recently accepted the resignation of executive director Meg Benko.
Benko has served as the executive director of PCMOW for the last four years. Leaving her position, she said, is the most difficult decision she has ever made.

“Pickens County Meals on Wheels is in a great place,” she said. “Knowing that, it is time for me to move on.”

March 18 will be Benko’s last day with the organization.

Under Benko’s leadership, PCMOW achieved numerous accomplishments, including the introduction of new special events like the Chili Cook-Off, The Sam Wyche Food Fight Bowl, an annual volunteer appreciation luncheon and, most recently, Pedal Pickens County Charity Ride. Most notable for Benko is an awareness of the increase in the volume of people receiving services and the reduction of time spent on the service waiting list.

“I will really cherish my memories,” she said. “PCMOW is such a community-minded organization. Knowing the progress we have made and how many people’s lives have been impacted on a daily basis — this has been a great accomplishment.”

As the executive director, Benko developed a newsletter publication and instituted a complete upgrade of the PCMOW website, which served to improve and widen communication channels. Her emphasis on utilizing new technology improved the organization’s efficiency and allowed for capacity building.

During Benko’s tenure, the organization’s budget doubled. Budget growth was matched by programmatic growth, as the organization doubled the number of individuals served. Efficiency and growth were key ingredients to the organization cutting its average wait time to 2.19 months last year, as compared to a wait time of well over a year when Benko arrived. Additionally, the program expanded its reach in 2010 to include service to the homebound disabled whose needs were previously unmet.

“What some people don’t realize is that Meals on Wheels is about more than a meal,” she said. “We provide a hot, nutritious meal to homebound individuals who may not have one otherwise. Sometimes the visit — having someone there showing care and concern — provides more to the recipient than the meal itself.”

Reese said the organization has been fortunate to have Benko as its director during the last four years, during which time she “has done an outstanding job.”

“Meg came to PCMOW at a major crossroads in the life of our organization,” he said. “She has led us to become Pickens County’s premier non-profit organization combating the effects of hunger, loneliness and isolation for our homebound citizens. We will all miss Meg and wish her the very best in whatever new endeavor she undertakes.”

Benko plans to spend time with her family and said she will miss everyone associated with Pickens County Meals on Wheels.

“I couldn’t have been more fortunate in working with such an involved and dedicated board, talented and hardworking staff, wonderful volunteers and a caring and supportive community. I am honored to have been a part of it all,” she said.

“The word community seems to get over-used a lot at times, but there is no better way to describe Pickens County,” said Benko. “Our goals could not have been achieved without all of the volunteer help and generous donations from the Pickens County community.”