Citymeals volunteer Fatime

Born and raised in Senegal, Fatime made a new home for herself in New York City more than 20 years ago. With a husband, son and full-time job, Fatime’s life was already full, but she felt something was missing.

“When I left Senegal, my mom was in her late 70s, and I didn’t get to see her often, because it’s so costly to travel back home.”

Fatime began volunteering with Citymeals to fill that unique void in her life. She started serving lunch on Mondays at a senior center in Harlem and chatting with those of her older neighbors who were well enough to get out of the house. But it’s the homebound elderly who hold a special place in Fatime’s heart. She loves going out on meal deliveries. “When you knock on the door and say 'it's Citymeals,' they open the door and give you a big smile,” she says. “It always makes me feel good.”

When I left Senegal, my mom was in her late 70s, and I didn’t get to see her often.

Girlease is one of those meal recipients. She first met Girlease almost a decade ago, when the 94-year-old was recovering from a stroke. Girlease began receiving home-delivered meals after being discharged from the hospital. They enabled her to continue living independently in the same Harlem apartment she’s called home for 60 years. “The minute I saw her, I just fell in love!” Fatime recalls. Girlease reminds her a lot of her own mother.

Fatime, her husband and son deliver a meal on Thanksgiving Day.
Fatime, her husband and son delivering meals to their homebound elderly neighbors last Thanksgiving. 

When it comes to serving her community, Fatime has involved her family. Last Thanksgiving, she, her husband and their son spent the morning delivering meals to those who would celebrate alone at home. It’s an important lesson that Fatime wants to make sure to pass along to her son. “You are truly making a difference in these people’s lives,” Fatime points out. When you’re out on a meal delivery, she says, “You may be the only face they see during the week.”