October 2, 2012

Each year, Citymeals hosts a special event to honor our “stars.” We award the dedication and commitment that these special people share to bring nutritious meals to New York’s homebound elderly.  The STAR Awards recognize frontline workers at the 33 meal centers Citymeals supports around the city. These workers provide daily meals and thoughtful attention to the frail and aged. STAR Awards are also presented to employees at the 23 case management agencies who help assess eligibility for meals and benefits.

Citymeals was formed to ensure no day would go by when vulnerable and isolated older New Yorkers would go hungry. Our meals would not be possible without the drivers, deliverers, case managers, directors and coordinators who brave extreme heat, snow, and even natural disasters, because they know that their homebound elderly neighbors rely on them.

But it’s not only the food that matters. Human contact and kindness brought to the doorsteps of meal recipients is just as nourishing. We heard inspiring stories of courage and compassion about all of the awardees. One of them talked a client out of attempting suicide. He summoned for help without ever leaving her side. Another found a client with a large head wound from a fall and was able to get the bleeding under control while waiting for help. A meal center coordinator walked 20 blocks through a blizzard to deliver meals. That same person worked during Hurricane Irene, coming to work although she knew that public transportation was shutting down and she might not be able to get home, because she understood how important the meals are to her elderly clients.

A 97-year-old meal recipient said of one deliverer, “He’s such a gentleman. He always greets me with a compliment, and flattery is a lost art when you get to my age. He is always asking how I’m feeling or if I took my medication. He truly does care and it shows.” An 85-year-old meal recipient shared, “I have been in and out of the hospital a lot this year and my health has gone from bad to worse but there is something that I can rely on when I get home and that’s him at my door with my food and a smile… that wonderful smile!”

Please join us in honoring the STAR Awards winners and all the other heroes who deliver meals to the homebound elderly.

STAR Award Winners and Runners Up
Driver/Deliverer Category:
Co-Winner Robert Oliver - Henry Street Settlement
Co-winner Richard Johnson - Union Settlement
Co-winner Alan Abbey - CCNS NEQ
Co-winner Damour Deenah - Encore
Runner-up - University Settlement delivery staff

Case Manager Category:
Co-Winner Celia Galloway - Lenox Hill Neighborhood House
Co-Winner Jewel Cleckley-Watts - Selfhelp Project Pilot
Runner-up - Xiomara Martinez

Director/Coordinator Category:
Co-Winner Monica Bechan Director, Special Services for Senior Citizens
Co-Winner Jacqueline Huneidi, Director of case management SNAP
Co-Winner Shaheeda Ali, Coordinator meals on wheels Carter Burden
Runner up Carl Dade, weekend dispatcher CCNS NEQ