Two Who Care: Don and JoAnn Wheeler

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Meridian, Miss. Don and JoAnn Wheeler, both 77, adopted Meridian as their home and have been serving others ever since.

Newscenter 11 caught up with the Wheelers near the end of their shift delivering 32 dinners for Meals on Wheels.
That's a lot of stops on a hot, humid day in their un-air conditioned car. But they don't seem to mind.

Don has been volunteering with Meals on Wheels for more than nine years, and his wife of 57 and a half years is right by his side when her health allows.

Serving others is something the Wheelers have made a focus of their lives. Don's long career as a major with The Salvation Army took them to many states. He retired from Arizona, but serving others continued. As Don says, the challenge comes from God.

"It's a calling that He gave me that I feel I don't need to satisfy myself," said Don Wheeler. "I need to satisfy other people, and I love to do it!"

If his face looks familiar, it's because he serves in so many areas. You might see him working the polls on election day, at Wesley House or LOVE's Kitchen, volunteering with East Mississippi State Hospital, teaching Sunday School and much more at his church. He has too many volunteer jobs to name, and works many hours.

"There have been some days I think I work more or longer, or harder than when I was 8-to-6 or whatever the job was before," Wheeler said.

JoAnn says it's a family affair. The couple raised three children doing the work of ministry:

"All the children always helped in the church," said Joann Wheeler. "They didn't always like it! They had to scrub floors and clean bathrooms and mow the lawn and plant the flowers. But you know, they thank us now; they really do."

These partners in life and service found Meridian in an unexpected way, stopping at Okatibbee Lake to camp on their way to Florida more than ten years ago. They fell in love with the community and decided to stay.

Recent high school graduate, Jacob Munn, nominated the Wheelers for 11 Who Care, saying he grew up in church watching 'Mr. Don' tirelessly serve others.

"The thing he's taught me most is that your community only functions well with you being a part of everybody else's lives," said Munn. "One day, I hope to be like him. Be a poll worker maybe, or something. You know, just giving my time, giving my services, whatever I can do."

If you would like to suggest someone in our community for our 11 Who Care series, get a nomination form from WTOK at 815 23rd Avenue, Meridian MS 39301, and return it to us. Or you can print one online. A link is provided below.