My Bloomberg colleague Peter S. Green published a solid piece of journalism on Thursday about one of the more frighteningly unique predicaments of post-Sandy New York: the plight of the elderly in high-rises.
As a fairly-able bodied 33-year old with no power in my building, I’ve had a hard (and exhausting) time navigating my bike up and down eleven flights of stairs. Now imagine what it’s like for, say, an eighty-year-old facing the prospect of climbing down thirty-five flights of stairs just to get food, or to recharge a cellphone, or even to use a clean bathroom with a flushable toilet. It’s a scary thought.
Fortunately, there’s a fine organization that’s working to combat at least some of these predicaments. That organization is Citymeals-on-Wheels, which regularly delivers meals to home-bound seniors. I was lucky enough interview the executive director of Citymeals, Beth Shaprio, to help Peter out with his Bloomberg story.
As such, I thought I’d share with my Bad Deal readers a bit more about what I learned from my fascinating conversation with the the executive director.
Here’s what’s most important: Citymeals, in the aftermath of Sandy, has turned itself into a “food ambulance,” a dietary first-responder of sorts. In addition to delivering to regular recipients, Citymeals has been responding to emergency requests to anyone 60 years or older “who found themselves trapped in their homes, and unable to get out,” said Shapiro.
“They are potentially in high-rises, but for us, even a few flights of stairs for some of these people who rely on canes, walkers and wheelchairs — they’re virtual prisoners in their homes,” said Shapiro.
This takes work. Shapiro herself climbed to the twelfth floor of a building on Wednesday, while other volunteers climbed as high as the 35th and 38th floors of buildings. Since Sandy struck, the charity has been delivering boxes of three shelf-stable meals that can be consumed and stored without prior refrigeration. The meals include pouches of tuna, crackers, organic apple sauce, juice and pre-cooked brown rice.
Around 40 volunteers helped deliver meals on Wednesday, said Shapiro, compared with about 400 during Thanksgiving. “We are in need of able-bodied volunteers and money, at least through the weekend,” she said.
So there you have it. Go volunteer, good people. Citymeals-on-Wheels is most definitely, most certainly a GOOD DEAL (Update: Citymeals has enough volunteers for the post-Sandy effort, it reports on its website, but that shouldn’t stop you from donating or from volunteering for the holidays).