Chelsea volunteering

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, Manhattan resident Chelsea is spending her free time volunteering with Citymeals. 

Chelsea is a fashion and still life stylist and will soon celebrate a decade of living in New York City. She was born in Wisconsin and raised in Normal, Illinois. “But I’m very not normal as a person,” Chelsea laughs. “I had to get to New York. New York City is the greatest love of my life.” 

When Covid hit New York, Chelsea decided to get more involved with volunteering in her community. She started making masks for essential workers and a friend suggested they deliver meals for Citymeals. Soon Chelsea began going to meal centers and making deliveries on her own.  

New York's homebound elderly deserve to feel seen - not forgotten. If we can better their lives, it will be better for everyone.

“It clicked in my head — I am healthy, I should be the one on the frontlines. Volunteering helped my mental health and it gave me stability in my day to day,” Chelsea explains. “I’ve been going a lot the last few months. Any day I have free, I’m trying to volunteer.” 

The immediate impact of volunteering, especially during these uncertain times, is what drew Chelsea to this work. 

“You can see the good you’re doing. Selfishly, it makes me feel so happy when I volunteer. It’s not just for the people that we’re helping, it’s for the volunteers, too.”

Handmade cards

One of the most striking parts of volunteering for Chelsea has been how grateful the Citymeals recipients are for their meal delivery and a friendly knock on the door — a friendly face from behind a mask is more important now than ever. 

“It’s a connection. It’s brief but it’s like, we’re alive, we’re here, we’re still kicking! You can tell that they’re longing for connection and friendship. Chelsea explains. “They’re alone, cooped up in their apartments. That’s not the way you want to live the later years of your life — almost forgotten.” 

Along with the impact of seeing how much the meals mean to recipients, the other volunteers that Chelsea has met through packing and delivering meals also motivate her to keep coming back. 

“The other volunteers are joyous, and everyone is there because they want to better society and better New York. It’s the most New York, most loving thing.” 

One of the first times Chelsea volunteered was at the Stanley Isaacs Center in Manhattan. Packing meals with the volunteers and the full-time staff wasn’t just a task — the atmosphere was infused with camaraderie and fun. 

“There was music playing in the kitchen and we were dancing from six feet away. We’re packaging food and working really hard, but everyone was so joyous to be doing good things.”

Chelsea loves working with the other volunteers and full-time staff, but her calling for volunteer work always comes back to the important work she’s doing for Citymeals meal recipients.

“New York's homebound elderly deserve to feel seen - not forgotten. If we can better their lives, it will be better for everyone.”