By Guillermo Gonzalez
I became a Meals-on-Wheels driver in 2010, not really expecting the social and spiritual impact I’d experience from joining that very special community.
Working as a driver for Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services (SCES) was among the most pleasant experiences in my lifetime. I love to be in contact with people, listening to their problems, their emotions and their deeds. It was always interesting, that reflection of what I am or what I am not.
One highlight was identifying with my workmates, the other drivers I gradually came to know. Despite the daily ups and downs, cooperation as a team was one of our pillars.
Our team sacrificed hours of sleep, getting up early to have everything ready by 8 am. Their spirit and fortitude created an amalgamation between them. Listening to their concerns, their desires, aspirations, dreams (most in Spanish) broadened my point of view beyond physical needs, transcending to moral and spiritual wishes.
The most inspiring aspect was seeing this group of young drivers from the Walnut Street Center, WCI—Work, Community, Independence–, and the Shore Educational Collaborative assisting adults with development disabilities, teaching them how to classify meals according to the pre-established diet, how to handle the meal bags and pack them in the delivery cars.
It gave me satisfaction to know there are community-based services, and young people out there, supporting a program that helps others maintain independence and have options for where and how they want to live.
Delivering the meals was also highly satisfying. Sometimes there was opportunity to spend a few moments chatting with elders, sharing their thoughts, hopes and joys. It was rewarding, and I found some unique life wisdom in return.
As humans we have inherent desire for communication. Some of our clients live a solitary life, and they desire to say something to someone.
Our clients came from all walks of life, and speaking with them helped me see more things from a positive perspective. This can include negative experiences, since advice along the lines of “don’t do that …” is an attempt to communicate what was lived and advising the current generation to do better. That’s positive.
I shared, however briefly, the many challenges of our clients. And from their determination I learned to greet each day as a new beginning—as a celebration of life, blessings and gratitude.
Guillermo Gonzalez joined SCES as a Meals-on-Wheels driver in 2010 and is now a bilingual case manager for the Senior Care Options program at SCES.
Interested in becoming a Meals-on-Wheels driver? SCES is looking for dependable people to deliver meals to homebound elders, while also providing limited daily contact with program participants. Drivers work up to 15 hours per week and earn $10.50 per hour, plus mileage. For more information visit the Job Opportunities page at eldercare.org.