Every Saturday morning, Jason – one of Citymeals’ dedicated volunteers – takes the train from his home in Queens to Times Square, where he begins his delivery route. It’s easy to forget that in the heart of the city, amidst the flashing signs and glittering windows, there are residential buildings. They are often occupied by older New Yorkers, who have lived in the area for decades and now struggle to get by.

Jason with 91-year-old Claudina
On Mother's Day, Jason gave a rose to each woman on his delivery route.

As a teacher in Louisiana, Jason remembers his students never wanted to volunteer with the elderly. They always chose other projects. That’s why, when he moved to New York City, he decided to get involved with Citymeals.

Jason began delivering meals, and then deepened his involvement through our Friendly Visiting program, which pairs volunteers with their isolated neighbors for regular visits. Each week, he’d spend time with Seli. She loved to tell jokes, he recalls. “She was like a witty aunt.” After Seli became too sick to live on her own, she moved to a hospice facility, where Jason continued to visit her. The nurses always begged him to stay as long as possible – he was the only person who could get Seli to eat or even smile.

Sadly, Seli passed away five years ago. Even today, you can hear Jason’s voice quivering as he talks about their time together. Her death left him filled with grief, but Jason carried on because he knew the meal recipients on his route all yearn for a connection and to know that someone cares.

Many of them have come to care for Jason as well. When Jason went home to Louisiana to care for his own sick mother, worried recipients called the meal center to check in on him.

After eight years of volunteering with Citymeals, Jason knows the people on his route are nourished as much by their simple interaction as by the meal he brings. A few years ago, one man would always accept his meal silently, without speaking or looking up. Now, Jason notes with an appreciative laugh, he makes sure to invite Jason in for a chat every Saturday.