CityMeals on Wheels has been a valued partner of AHRC New York City programs, which support people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities (I/DD), for over a decade. Each day, the two organizations work together to assist homebound elderly New Yorkers in need of fresh meals in all five boroughs. People AHRC NYC supports and staff members, many from Adult Day Services (ADS), volunteer up to three times per week to make these deliveries. CityMeals recently thanked these AHRC NYC programs, as well as other organizations supporting people with I/DD, with a catered luncheon at CityMeals’ new Bronx warehouse.
Working Together to Feed Thousands
“A lot of what you do for us we couldn’t do it by ourselves,” Vivienne O’Neill, CityMeals’ Director of Volunteer Programs, told the group at the Drake Street warehouse. “Of our 25,000 volunteers, who give 80,000 hours of service annually, you guys [people with I/DD and their support staff] are about one-third of that group. That’s how important you are to CityMeals on Wheels.” Vivienne was joined by Sheila Clay, Eloise Jones, and Autrice Wildman in serving food to the volunteers, providing them with gift bags, and encouraging them to enjoy the luncheon as a gesture of appreciation for their dedication to CityMeal’s mission.
Darinka Vlahek, Director of Arts and Community Outreach for ADS, said that the partnership between AHRC NYC and CityMeals is comprehensive. “CityMeals worked closely with Care Coordinators to identify needy seniors around Bushwick, Norfolk Street, and Crown Heights where our packed food could be delivered there,” Darinka said. “About 50 people from ADS programs deliver food. They get special requests during holidays such as Passover.” In addition, CityMeals was one of AHRC NYC’s most vital partners during its MLK Day of Service, an agency-wide community service initiative that in 2019 centered on combatting hunger in all five boroughs. It will be held again in January 2020.
Sometimes, AHRC NYC volunteers go beyond just delivering food to the elderly. “They have created cards—birthday, get-well-soon, and more—for the seniors,” Darinka said.
A Part of Something Great
Aissata Diaby, Community Support Professional, has made dozens of CityMeals deliveries accompanying people AHRC NYC support, including Ronald Robinson. “We’re a Without Walls program, so we are able to be more flexible when we are able to deliver meals,” Aissata said. “We love giving the seniors the food—it’s helping out and we love to do things of that nature. It was an exciting time. One of the gentlemen we deliver to has a vision and hearing impairment, and Ronald really took to him.”
Enrique Viera from AHRC NYC’s Dorothy and Michael Styler Center said “I’m happy to go to the people’s houses. I get to go up to their houses, knock on the door, bring them food and say hello! It makes me happy” Enrique’s peer, Hugh Grant, echoed that sentiment saying “It makes me feel good because sometimes I get to help people.”
Community Support Professional, Harriet Simmons from AHRC NYC’s Howie Stone Adult Day Center echoed Aissata’s sentiments. “We’ve been doing deliveries for many years. It’s great that they [the people we support] get to have conversations with the people that they are helping. They bring joy with them,” she said. “It helps them really feel like they part of a team and a part of doing something great.”