Donna Pitzer

(Editor’s Note: From time to time, we hear about exceptional volunteers in our community. We’d like to highlight those who give freely of their time, talent and treasure to help others. Know a great volunteer? Let us know: editor@blufftonsun.com)

When you are a volunteer for Meals on Wheels, Bluffton-Hilton Head you know a day may come when you could possibly save a client’s life. That day came for Donna Pitzer, a resident in Bluffton, during this holiday season.

It was a routine day until she arrived at one client’s home. Doris (not her real name), 72 and a client since 2018, usually greeted her at the door. Pitzer knocked but Doris didn’t answer. 

Because Doris is a shut-in due to health issues, Pitzer was concerned. A little voice in her head told her to listen carefully. She heard a muffled cry for help coming from within the house.

“I felt something wasn’t right,” said Pitzer. “We always announce ‘Meals on Wheels’ very loudly and knock on the door.”

She asked if she could enter, and Doris’s meek voice could be heard: “I need a little help.” Pitzer proceeded to the bedroom. Doris had fallen, fully clothed, into her bathtub. Her walker was out of her reach.

Pitzer checked for wounds and blood. Seeing none, she calmed Doris down and called 911. Doris had been trapped for 13 hours. 

“My certified nursing assistant training taught me not to panic and not to move the patient,” said Pitzer. “The Bluffton Fire Department emergency team was so very professional and kind with my client.” 

After a week in the hospital and two weeks in rehabilitation, Doris is back home and receiving her weekday meals.

“I saw her on my last meal delivery, and we chatted about the incident,” said Pitzer. Plus, the staff has made sure her emergency contact is adequate to monitor her going forward.

Pitzer ran a childcare center out of her home for over 30 years when she lived in Rhode Island. After relocating to the Lowcountry, she was a substitute teacher in the public school system in Beaufort County. She and her husband Phil moved to the area four years ago.

“I started volunteering for Meals on Wheels in May,” said Pitzer. “I love the people, I love to chat, and I love the staff, as well.” Pitzer volunteers for Meals on Wheels, Bluffton-Hilton Head twice a month on two different Bluffton routes.

She also volunteered for the Boys and Girls Club in Bluffton. 

“It was such a privilege to help someone in need,” Pitzer said. “It’s what my faith is all about.” Pitzer had spent 40 years working with youth at her church in Rhode Island. She also sang in the church choir and served as the church secretary for a while. Not only that, but she also drove the church bus on many occasions.

Currently, Pitzer teaches Sunday school at Cornerstone Church in Bluffton. “It’s a blast.  Those kids keep me young and laughing.” 

Meals on Wheels, Bluffton-Hilton Head is seeking drivers for off-island trips to serve clients in Bluffton and Sun City. Volunteers are also needed to assist with food preparation from 8 to 10 a.m. on Hilton Head Island, a volunteer accountant for one day a week, people interested in helping with events, office assistants, and a nutritionist. For more information contact the volunteer coordinator at volcoordinator@mowblufftonhiltonhead.org.