Neha Jayaram, Communications and Marketing Specialist
I started out as a Meals on Wheels driver for about 3 years, volunteering anywhere between 1-5 days a week. In fact one year I delivered over 3000 meals. I loved the experience of getting to know clients, seeing them as people and not just faces. For a lot of Meals on Wheels clients, I was the only interaction they got for the day. I would always try to remember little details about them. Asking a senior how their pizza weekend with the grandchildren was, really brightens up their day.
One time, I arrived at a client’s house to deliver her meal. I knocked but didn’t receive an answer for a long time. I finally heard someone inside, called the office and received instructions to call 911. The police and ambulance arrived and we found the lady had fallen down. She wasn’t very hurt so she wasn’t taken to the hospital.
It was a great feeling to be able to help her this way. I was also grateful that I came by or she could have stayed hurt and no one would have known for a long time. She was on a waitlist for a long-term care home and this incident got her in the very next day!
After that I drove for our Home At Last program for a couple of years. It was so gratifying to see how a few kind words from me or the PSW that accompanied them, could really cheer them up. I then applied as a casual driver for SCHC, driving dialysis patients or just filling in wherever necessary.
We were running a clinic for refugees at the Radisson hotel some time ago and I spent about 3 months working with refugee families, driving them about and helping them get settled in.
I am diabetic and because I didn’t take care of myself, I ended up with neuropathy in my left foot. I have to wear a boot that keeps my ankle in place so I have no flexibility in my foot, but it helped avoid surgery and possible amputation. Last year, I broke my ankle and didn’t know it for a long time. Finally in September my ankle was put in a cast and I had to stay off it till January this year. When I came back, so many of my regular clients asked me where I’d been and said they’d missed me.
I’ve also received a lot of help from SCHC’s Diabetes Education Program, they really helped me take better care of myself. I changed my diet and lost 45-50 pounds! I’m a lot healthier and no longer need insulin, just pills.
Working at SCHC has made me a lot happier with myself, a lot more relaxed and outgoing. I used to be quite shy and introverted and I also used to stutter a lot. Now however, I am very comfortable interacting with strangers and people I might never see again.
I think, because of my condition, I can empathize a lot more with our clients, especially seniors with mobility issues. I still have trouble going up the stairs and can understand how our clients feel.
Our clients like it when drivers speak to them and are friendly with them. We become a familiar face that they see regularly and they appreciate the conversations we have. We do a lot of great work at SCHC, and our clients are so appreciative of our services. I only wish more people knew about us and the work we do.”