Diana began volunteering during the height of the pandemic. Even now, several days a week, she arrives early in the morning to help in the kitchen and pack meals at a senior center on the Upper East Side. She’s especially awed by the tireless kitchen staff. “You take for granted how much work is involved in this. I get a lot of joy from them.”​


After a few hours at the center, she sets out on her delivery route. In high rises, she takes the elevator. With hundreds of apartments, it’s easy to be anonymous — or forgotten.

Then there are the walk-ups, sitting above bodegas, laundromats and restaurants. The stairs are narrow and uneven. A younger person might lose their footing, never mind a frail aged resident with a cane. But no matter the building, at each door Diana stops to talk. She knows she might be the only person the meal recipient sees all day. 

I wanted to give everyone a hug at a certain point. They’re just all by themselves.

She’s become especially close with 95-year-old Adamina. Despite her age and diminishing health, she always greets Diana with a beaming smile. It’s clear just how appreciative Adamina is — not just for the meal or a few kind words, but for Diana’s compassion. 

Diana is very aware how quickly things can change. “You realize one day you’re going to be there, as well,” she observes. “When I get to that stage of my life, hopefully, someone will be nice to me too.”

Volunteering with Citymeals has helped Diana stay optimistic during hard times like the COVID-19 pandemic. “New York is resilient,” she notes. Of course, as a lifelong New Yorker, Diana knows the city wouldn’t be so resilient without the contributions of her homebound elderly neighbors who worked hard over their lifetimes to make it so. And today, it also takes those like Diana who are willing to pay it forward.