During this past year, 380 home-bound individuals throughout Tempe and Scottsdale received hot, nutritious home-delivered meals and a wellness visit from TCAA. Simone Ossipov recalls her experience as a home-delivered meals driver and what motivates her to continue volunteering at TCAA:
“I remember having breakfast and reading the paper when I came upon a small article about an organization in Phoenix that would have to stop delivering meals to the home-bound because of a lack of drivers. I imagined so many people going hungry and that spoiled my breakfast. A few days later, I saw an ad from Tempe Community Action Agency looking for volunteer drivers for their program of home delivered meals. The next day I was at the Tempe North Center and signed on as a driver. It was the best thing I did to enjoy my retirement.
It was so easy to bring some fun with the food. One client was a gentleman from Vietnam, educated in France. He was so happy to speak French and before we knew it, we were singing La Marseillaise! I met so many wonderful people on my route. They appreciated the food but so often they just wanted to visit. Sometimes they needed a hug or some advice. They were so caring of me as well, offering an umbrella if a shower surprised me, a sweater if it was cold, or a drink on a hot summer day. Some days I would bring my granddaughter with me when she had a break from school. She was proud of her grandma and how much the clients loved to see me and her. It was a great experience for her as well and the client’s love to see young people too.
Monday became a special day for me knowing that I was going to see my friends and bring them my friendship. They showed me how a simple gesture and a few words can mean so much. There were some sad days too, like when we would learn that a client was in the hospital and we never heard anything from them again. It was so hard to see some of them getting sicker every week. I remember a client who was such a joker I always left laughing. Then he too started to get really weak until one day he told me ‘just hold my hand’ it broke my heart to see him in such pain. I knew then that I was making a difference in his life by making such a small gesture.
I delivered meals for over 15 years until I had problems with my eyes and could not drive anymore, it was so hard to say goodbye to all the wonderful people I had met over the years but it was time to pass the torch to another volunteer so they could enjoy the same feeling as me.
Volunteering is such a rewarding experience and TCAA is the best place to do it.”