Cassandra out on a delivery.

For Citymeals volunteer Cassandra, delivering meals to older New Yorkers in need has been the through line of the last two decades: “This is what we’re meant to do. We’re put here to help others out. For me this comes automatically.”

It’s also a tribute to the grandmother who helped raise Cassandra. Always chatty as a kid, her grandmother used to say, “Baby, you can talk to me all day!” When her grandmother passed away, Cassandra felt a profound sense of loss, but also a deep sense of indebtedness. Her grandmother's legacy of empathy was something she’s carried forward in her own life.

Cassandra began delivering meals to her homebound neighbors one Thanksgiving Day, more than twenty years ago. After a year of knocking on doors and becoming familiar with the different meal recipients on her route, she knew she was in it for the long haul. On Friday nights, when she was out with friends, she’d explain she had to head home early to get up the next morning for her meal deliveries. “The recipients expect to see me!”

Cassandra out on a delivery.

Following Superstorm Sandy in 2012, Cassandra supported Citymeals’ emergency response, delivering meals to vulnerable New Yorkers trapped in high-rise apartment buildings without electricity and working elevators. She carried a flashlight to navigate dark stairwells, and many recipients were nervous to answer the door. Her work with Citymeals inspired Cassandra to work for FEMA, helping storm victims after Hurricane Ida. And during the pandemic, when routes changed and Citymeals was serving more recipients that ever, she took it in stride and did whatever it took to get the meals into the hands of those in need.

Over the years, Cassandra has become a fixture in the lives of the meal recipients she serves. They rely on her not just for meals, but for a sense of connection to the outside world. For Cassandra, volunteering with Citymeals is not just a weekend activity, it's a calling.