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A Citymeals Hero
By Rachel Sherrow, Associate Director, Marketing & Development
April 26, 2017
I want to congratulate Vivienne O’Neill, Director of Volunteer Programs, on receiving a Front Line Hero award from New York Nonprofit Media.
Viv has been fighting the hunger and isolation faced by New York City’s frail aged since 2005 when she joined our team. At the start of her tenure, Citymeals had 500 volunteers. Viv vastly expanded the volunteer program – providing opportunities to get involved in any of the five boroughs – and helped to launch our Friendly Visiting program, which brings volunteers into the homes of our meal recipients for weekly in-person visits. She helped to develop Citymeals’ corporate volunteer program and expanded our handmade card program. She also oversees our Senior Chat and Senior Script programs through which volunteers call and write letters to seniors, all while coordinating meal deliveries by volunteers of all ages.
When Hurricane Sandy struck in 2012, Viv organized more than 860 volunteers who braved the storm’s aftermath to deliver 64,595 emergency meals to seniors stranded in their homes. It was a shining example of her commitment to the mission for Citymeals – that we can respond no matter the occasion to those in need.
Today, she continues to be essential to our mission. With the senior population in our city expected to increase 40% by 2040, Viv ensures Citymeals is responding to the growing need of those who are facing hunger and loneliness. Because of her pioneering leadership, more than 15,000 volunteers gave 72,000 hours of their time to our organization last year.
Viv also spearheads some of our most vital aging initiatives. Because of her, volunteers are trained to look for signs of cold and heat-related illnesses during extreme weather and spots signs of Alzheimer’s and elder abuse. In some cases, her volunteers have actually saved the lives of meal recipients when they failed to come to the door to receive their meals.
Every day, Viv pours herself into our mission, inspiring everyone in the Citymeals family and reminding us all why she is a Front Line Hero. Congratulations!