Delivering Meals, Hope, and Love
Ms. Ching came to America in 1975 from Zhong Shan province in China and became a garment worker. She spent 15 hours a day in front of a sewing machine and was constantly bending at her waist, resulting in a severe humpback. Now at 95 years old, her humpback and poor blood circulation in her feet have made it hard for her to walk and climb the stairs of her Chinatown tenement building. Before becoming a part of CPC Open Door Senior Citizens Center’s Meals on Wheels program, Ms. Ching was an active member of Open Door Senior Citizens Center; joining the center to keep herself busy while her son was at work. Ms. Ching’s son was the light of her life and only caregiver until his fatal car accident in October 2004. “Why do I have to live in such pain? Why did my only son die before me?” exclaimed Ms. Ching. She had thoughts of suicide and had lost hope but Mr. Lee, the Meals on Wheels driver who delivers Ms. Ching’s meals, became her lifeline to the world. Not only does Mr. Lee deliver her meals, he also checks up on her well-being through their friendly conversations. Seeing the level of depression that she was in, he took it upon himself to bring her a working radio to listen to the Chinese radio and movies to keep her mind stimulated and entertained. If he has extra time after work he stops by again to talk with her. When asked why Ms. Ching is so special to him Mr. Lee said “It’s very simple, because she loves me and I love her back.”
The CPC Open Door Senior Citizens Center Meals on Wheels program began in 1981, becoming one of the first senior centers to operate a meals delivery program in NYC. Today 110 meals are delivered by a two person delivery team. Many of the homebound seniors served through the program count on the Meals on Wheels delivery as their source of breakfast and lunch. Providing meals and a chance for socialization is important in keeping socially isolated seniors engaged and reminds them that they are not alone. There are various reasons why homebound seniors choose not to live with their children or move into an assisted living facility, such as not wanting to leave the memories of their younger days behind or not wanting to become a “burden” on their children’s new family. Being taken care of by the community in this small way is a hopeful reminder that they have not been forgotten in their old age.
In celebration of Older Americans Month, CPC salutes our Senior Services and Meals on Wheels staff.