The Meals on Wheels program at the Klein JCC in Bustleton delivers nearly 50,000 meals a year, but expects that number to grow over the next few years.
“In a lot of cases it starts out where they need meals, and then we find they don’t have bathroom equipment, or they don’t have a doorbell that works, or they don’t have something else in their home that they may need,” explains Nina Cohen, director of Emergency Food & Home Delivered Meals at Klein.
As a result, Cohen says, these drivers often end up doing more than just delivering meals.
Jay Lipschutz has been a volunteer driver for the past four years.
“About a year ago I made an emergency delivery to somebody not on my route and when I walked in the house it was a disaster: there was holes in the ceiling, slippery floors; it looked like the place was falling apart,” Lipschutz says.
In the video, reporter Gail Austin rides along with Lipschutz on a delivery and talks to some of the seniors who receive this service.
In cases such as this, Klein has a social worker who helps to further the organization’s outreach.
Dan Goldberg, a volunteer driver, was also able to provide extra assistance to a senior along his route.
“I went to my last client and he came out walking with a cane and said ‘can you take me to the emergency room at the hospital?’” said Goldberg. “So I said ‘yea sure,’ and I took him to the hospital.”
According to the 2000 Census, senior citizens make up 13 percent of Philadelphia’s residents, but with the aging baby boomers generation, the census bureau expects to see that number increase dramatically throughout the country.
“We have about 10 to 15 drivers. Some of them are not regular drivers, they are back-ups. We always need people we can call when we are in a pinch,” explains Cohen. “That’s really what we need right now, more drivers.”
Klein plans to continue its outreach into communities throughout the city, to help as many struggling senior citizens as possible.