Volunteers deliver dishes with side of companionship to Bay Area homebound seniors

A Bay Area organization is providing food and comfort to those who may need a little assistance. 

As a Neighborly Care Network Meals on Wheels volunteer, Darlene Kalada makes very important deliveries as she brings meals and companionship to Pinellas County seniors.

"People that are elderly or in need of meals need company as well," shared Kalada, Neighborly Care Network Meals on Wheels volunteer. "So, I deliver the meals so that they get nutrition and I deliver the meals so that they have company."  

Angie Cafaro is 88 years old and quite thankful for the program. 

"They're wonderful," she said. "They're very good and very, very kind people. They just go overboard and I think the world of them." 

Neighborly Care Network volunteer with senior in the Meals on Wheels program

Due to the number of seniors in need, there is a waiting list. 

"This is critical work for these folks. This is the work that keeps a lot of these seniors from having to be in facilities," said David Lomaka, executive director of the Neighborly Care Network. 

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"This is what allows them to stay home, which is what.... almost every senior wants to stay and stay in their home. And sometimes it's just a meal that will allow them to do that." 

The grass-roots effort has been around since 1966. 

Historic image of two people with the Neighborly Care Network Meals on Wheels program

"So for 56 years now, we've been delivering meals. We were the first Meals on Wheels provider in the United States. We were the first federally recognized adult day care center in the United States," Lomaka said. 

The Neighborly Care Network also has three adult daycare centers to help provide relief for caregivers. 

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"So folks with dementia, folks with other cognitive disorders, they could come in our busses, pick them up, bring them to a daycare center. And it's really important for those folks because a caregiver can go to work or do a number of other things," Lamaka added. 

Senior citizens in a community room in Pinellas County

For Kalada, it's a chance to give back to her community. 

"It feels great. It feels great. I go and I talk to them and ask them about their day and their family and fill in the voids that that that they have. You're the only person they may see all day," she said. A day that many homebound seniors look forward to," she said.  

The program has more than 700 people on the waiting list to get meals delivered because they don't have enough volunteers.

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