CLC’s Food Networks in the OMI, Bayview, and beyond into Parkmerced and Visitacion Valley were recently honored with the “Keeping the Spirit Alive” Award. We want to tell you why.
Team leaders Deb Glen, Chester Williams and Karen Holt have built teams of drivers and loyal volunteers who care about the well-being of their neighbors. They show this with regular “check-in” phone calls and weekly delivery of fresh fruits, vegetables and staples to their homes. We know that these regular connections are an antidote for isolation and loneliness. They let individuals know they are appreciated and that their health, well-being, and history of helping others is important. Over the past year, they delivered 9,000 bags of groceries, made 7,800 visits, and provided 890 hours of support to 205 neighbors in the Bayview, OMI and Parkmerced neighborhoods.
Regular Connections Reduce Isolation
And the regular contact with almost 200 people weekly helps volunteers know when someone needs more help – from more formal services or just from a neighbor who brings the garbage can to the curb or helps change a lightbulb.
As good neighbors, it is everyone’s responsibility to make sure older adults and adults with disabilities receive the care and support they need to age with dignity in their own homes and communities. But what is really remarkable is the commitment of these neighbors to be a kind and reliable source of connection – no matter what. This program was started by Deloris McGee in the OMI in 2008 and expanded as a model for other neighborhoods – Parkmerced (2011) and Bayview (2013), has not missed a single delivery. Personal health challenges, the death of a loved one, bad weather and all the other things that could have gotten in the way did not. They have pulled together so that no one misses their delivery – no matter what – ever.
A Successful Partnership
The Dept. of Aging and Adult Service, in partnership with the San Francisco and Marin Food Bank, has looked to this model program and funded similar efforts in other parts of San Francisco. Because it is about more than just the food. A survey last year of the recipients reported that:
- 94% of recipients say the food they receive helps them stay in their homes,
- 97% have more access to fruits and vegetables,
- 81% feel they can get help when they need it, and
- 91% feel less isolated.
Everyone benefits from Having Good Neighbors
A sense of purpose and belonging is also key to successful aging. Deb Glen underscored this when CLC and the Grocery Delivery Teams received the “Keeping the Spirit Alive Award” from the Recreation and Park Department. Deb stated “Not only do we have a responsibility towards our fellow human beings, but it is our privilege to bring blessings and joy to those around us to make a difference in the lives of as many people as possible. It’s extremely beneficial to the volunteers as well because they also have the opportunity to be active with a sense of community fellowship”. Chester Williams stressed how in the Bayview, the organization HP UNITI offered their resources and took up the challenge in a big way over the years. Their committed team of drivers and volunteers has grown to meet the task as more and more neighbors in need came to learn about the benefits of this program. With expansion to the Visitacion Valley/Geneva Terraces areas, the host site at George Davis Senior Center has supported a wider delivery distribution network. They reach both seniors and people of any age with a disability that prevents them from standing in food pantry lines. This expansion reaches other 10-20 participants in those communities and provides a greater source of balanced nutrition.
We are so proud of this home-grown, neighborhood-based effort that continues to serve under-served communities in San Francisco.