IN REMEMBRANCE OF 9/11 - INTER-GENERATIONAL VOLUNTEERS DELIVERING EMERGENCY FOOD BOXES TO MEALS ON WHEELS STATEN ISLANDELDERLY
September 11, 2001 was a defining moment in our country and particularly forNew York CityandStaten Island. As the towers were falling, we could clearly see the rising smoke and dust. Staten Island was one of the hardest hit communities inNew York Citylosing over 270 “heroes.” Many Meals on Wheels recipients, volunteers and staff have been personally touched by the events of that fateful day, either by losing a family member, friend, neighbor or knowing a first responder. With fear and uncertainty surrounding us that day, the dedicated volunteers at Meals on Wheels of Staten Island starting arriving at 10 a.m. to pick up their meals for delivery and to offer comfort to the homebound seniors to whom they deliver.
Since the agency was created in 1972, Meals on Wheels of Staten Island has provided two meals each day to the homebound elderly who are unable to shop for or prepare their own meals. Now, over 850 frail seniors, average age over 83, depend on us for 2/3 of their daily recommended allowance. We deliver daily meals, Monday through Friday, and a weekend meal package on Saturdays.
We feel strongly that the daily delivery visit is equal in importance to the healthy nutrition that we deliver, since many meal recipients do not have any other personal contacts. That reassuring contact also provides the opportunity for us to monitor the status of our frail meal recipients and sometimes results in our sending our nurse out to visit or contacting the relative/neighbor emergency contact person. Through our strong volunteering efforts, Meals on Wheels is proud to provide that sense of security and well-being or emergency intervention to the most vulnerable in the community, many of whom have served our country themselves or were spouses of personnel in past military conflicts.
To commemorate the “September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance,” we will distribute emergency food boxes to these homebound seniors on Saturday, September 10, 2011. Each year Citymeals provides us with these boxes which we distribute to our meal recipients. The boxes contain non-perishable food items that the seniors can store and have available in case of an emergency, natural or man-made. As previously stated, many recipients are socially isolated, so the emergency boxes will sustain them if Meals on Wheels were unable to deliver meals in an emergency.
To accomplish this project, we will recruit from among our 400 Meals on Wheels volunteers, many of whom are retired seniors, as well as our local Boy and Girl Scout troops. This intergenerational approach will serve as a learning experience to encourage future volunteer leaders. The National Day of Service and Remembrance is an ideal opportunity to promote youth community service and develop leadership skills in a project designed to serve elderly neighbors and raising awareness on this special day. The project will also help us in promoting volunteerism and furthering our volunteer enrollment which is especially needed as we continue to see significant growth in our client meal recipient census.
To pay homage to those lost and honor the service and sacrifices of those who responded that day, Meals on Wheels will also prepare written materials commemorating September 11 that will be distributed on that date with the food box delivery. We will also be delivering these materials to all of our meal recipients for the rest of that week, Monday through Friday.
Each volunteer chosen to participate will register prior to the project date and will sign-in on the actual date. The projected goal is to have at least 50 participants to help with distributing the emergency boxes on September 10th and an additional 50 volunteers delivering the commemorative material during the weekdays that follow.
Meals on Wheels of Staten Island will promote our participation in this Day of Service by contacting the Staten Island Advance (local newspaper), S.I. Cable, NY1 and post the event on our website and Facebook page. All local elected officials will be invited some of whom we have spoken to about the project and who are ready to give their support. A commemorative ceremony will be planned in our kitchen/office on that Saturday, September 10th prior to the food box distribution and food delivery on that date.
As an organization that relies on volunteers to carry out its mission, in a community that was deeply affected by the tragic day on 9/11/01, Meals on Wheels of Staten Island would be honored to be chosen for the 10th Anniversary Challenge.