Meals On Wheels of San Francisco

Spring cleaning all year round

Meet Harry: There’s no place like a tidy home

Posted July 12, 2013

MOWSF Blog | Senior Stories

Harry in his favorite armchair.

Harry in his favorite armchair.

To visit MOWSF client Harry, you must first climb half a dozen flights of stairs. If you’re volunteering for Spring Cleaning All Year Round, a program that offers homebound seniors the gift of a light housecleaning, this means lugging two vacuum cleaners, a mop and a bucket of cleaning supplies up to the third floor. But the hike is worth it. For at the top waits Harry, a 90-year-old gentleman and a gracious host.

Harry, who has been a MOWSF client since 2008, rarely makes it up and down those stairs anymore. There’s no elevator in the building, which he’s lived in for more than 30 years, and he must use a walker to get around inside. Suffering from Parkinson’s disease and declining eyesight, Harry spends most of his days in his favorite armchair, keeping up with the world outside by reading weekly news magazines and the New York Times, which an obliging neighbor shares.

Harry's dining room table.

MOWSF Social Worker Cynthia dusts a chandelier.

“Even 10 years ago we used to have people over all the time,” says Harry, who lives his 86-year-old friend and caretaker, Maurice. “But we can’t entertain like we used to.” Though dusty and somewhat cluttered, the apartment is still elegantly decorated, and the many knickknacks make it tricky to clean. But soon the vacuum goes silent and the scrubbing stops, as folks gather round to listen to Harry’s stories – memories of his beloved Chicago, where he grew up, and of his church and family.

At the end of the morning, Harry passes around a dish of cookies and tells his audience of volunteers, over and over again, how happy he is to have them all there. “You really are the most charming set of people that I’ve seen in a long time,” he says, as he waves good-bye and blows kisses from the top of the stairs.

Help more homebound seniors like Harry.
From now through July 31, 2013, donations to the Spring Cleaning program will be matched by generous foundation dollar-for-dollar, up to $10,000!

Donate Now.

To learn more about our fundraising campaign, visit To watch a slideshow of spring cleaning volunteers and the seniors whose homes and hearts they’ve brightened, click here.