Mary Nittmann, Founding Director
In 1969, Mary answered a want-ad stating, “Director of a new program. Must be willing to work with volunteers.” Little did Mary realize that by answering the add, her life would never be the same. With just a few hundred dollars and no blueprint, Mary started the first Meals on Wheels program west of the Mississippi, launching one of the most successful local nonprofits and solidifying her significant legacy. It wasn't easy, however. After just six months the few hundred dollars ran out, leaving Mary and the fledgling program wondering where to turn. Tapping her natural resourcefulness, Mary was able to secure a two-year federal grant and began to build a loyal local donor program. Office space was created in a church and a willing chef was found at the Elks Club. At that time, there were 25 dedicated volunteers serving 15 elderly, homebound clients.
Three years later, the meal preparation was moved to the newly enlarged kitchen at PoudreValleyHospitaland the client rolls grew to seventy. The MOW office moved to her kitchen table, closer to her coffee pot. Mary worked alone for the first 30 years with the help of Margaret Robinson who volunteered as the bookkeeper. Early route sheets were handwritten by Mary on her kitchen table, later she developed a label system, and eventually in the early 80’s Karen Seeton, a wonderful friend to Mary and MOW, developed computerized route sheets. Asked what her legacy is to Meals on Wheels Fort Collins, Mary, as many know her to be an eloquent speaker, did not hesitate for an instant when responding, “Thousands of people in Fort Collins have benefited from the program as a consequence of the delivery of a meal which stabilized or enhanced their health and benefited them socially from the social contact by an interested volunteer who at the same time was performing a critical, emergency check on their welfare.