The Citymeals Blog

Food for Though

Appreciating Our Volunteers

Every April, Citymeals honors Volunteer Appreciation Month, a chance to recognize the tireless efforts of our dedicated team of volunteers. We would not be able to fulfill our mission without them. Last year, 14,000 volunteers gave 50,000 hours of their time to help their homebound elderly neighbors across the city. Some delivered meals or created handmade greeting cards. Others packed emergency food boxes at our Distribution Center in the Bronx. And some took time out of their day to call one of our meal recipients through our Social Calls program. 

Each of them has done their part to ensure that older New Yorkers remain connected to their communities and feel cared for.

Girl scouts delivering meals to seniors in need in Manhattan

Earlier this year some of our youngest volunteers – Girl Scout Troop 4503 from Queens – delivered meals to their older neighbors in need. The seven girls and their troop leaders started at Encore Community Services, just off Times Square. From there, they fanned out across the neighborhood with a list of meal recipients and addresses. “We introduced the word ‘homebound’ and what that really means,” says Amanda Ettinger, one of the troop leaders. It was a valuable teaching moment. “We were providing two types of nourishment: food and our company,” she says.

Standard Industries is a corporate partner who has supported Citymeals for the past five years. On their Annual Impact Day, more than a hundred of their employees gather at the Citymeals Distribution Center to spend the day packing emergency and holiday meal boxes. This fall, they packed a record 10,000 meals to be delivered to their older neighbors in need across the five boroughs.

“After going on meal deliveries, many employees talked about seeing New York in a different way – understanding the need in neighborhoods where they live and work,” says Tracy MacKenzie, Vice President of Philanthropy, CSR and Events at Standard Industries. 

Citymeals also relies on scores of caring individuals like Tracee, a freelance writer living in Brooklyn. Through Citymeals’ Social Calls program, Tracee calls George, a 99-year-old World War II veteran from Staten Island. Three times a week, usually early in the morning while he waits for his meal delivery, they talk about what’s going on in their lives and sports, mainly baseball. George is a lifelong Mets fan, and Tracee used to work as a reporter for ESPN, so they love to speculate about the team’s prospects. “I get so much joy out of it,” Tracee says. “It’s a two-way street.”  

Tracee, Social Calls Volunteer

Volunteering is truly a way to get out there and build community – forging and reinforcing bonds – and Citymeals offers many ways to do that. If you haven’t yet, I encourage you create an account and sign up for our Volunteer Newsletter to learn more about opportunities around the city.

Food For Thought