Meals On Wheels of San Francisco

Spring Cleaning Volunteers and a MOWSF senior

Meet MOWSF Senior Opal: Student volunteers helped her clear the air

Posted June 15, 2015

MOWSF Blog | Senior Stories | Volunteer News

Spring Cleaning Volunteers and a MOWSF senior

From, left to right, college students Marisol, Haley, Carina and Noe worked with volunteer project Leader Robyn to clean the home of 83-year-old Opal.

By Sharon Starr, MOWSF Contributor and Volunteer

For Meals On Wheels of San Francisco (MOWSF) senior Opal, who started receiving meals in September 2014, “Spring Cleaning All Year Round” came at the perfect time.

Earthquake retrofitting, necessary to make her house safe, had coated every surface in the 83-year-old’s home with a fine, gritty layer of dust. But Opal, who recently had suffered a bad fall, was still recovering from shoulder surgery. She’d been unable to do even small cleaning tasks, much less tackle a dusting job of this scale.

A MOWSF social worker recognized that between mobility issues and other health problems like diabetes and hypertension, Opal, who lives alone, could use some help. She signed her up for “Spring Cleaning All Year Round,” which, for the past three years, has been connecting volunteer teams with seniors for light house-cleaning projects. Pretty soon a group of students from the University of San Francisco were putting elbow grease into tidying Opal’s Bayview home.

Spring Cleaning Team Leader Robyn Roberts, who has been volunteering with MOWSF for two years, led the effort — coordinating times and dates before the event and then making sure Opal felt comfortable with strangers in her home.

“It was the perfect time. I really needed the help with all the things I couldn’t do,” said Opal, who commented that the volunteers had been such hard workers. “We also had a lot of fun,” she said. “I felt like I could trust them.”

Trust was especially important when the students cleaned up Opal’s curio cabinet, which is filled with treasured items, including delicate china and glassware. After carefully removing each item, the students cleaned the cabinet, washed the individual pieces and then put everything back in place. “Dust had gotten everywhere,” Opal said. “They cleaned it all. They were so careful and nice.”

Project Leader Robyn, who is known for being an expert organizer, also helped clean out the kitchen cabinets, consulting Opal when discarding outdated supplies. “I needed that. I’m a bit of a pack rat,” Opal said. The student team also changed the bed linens, hosed down the garage floor, polished furniture, swept, mopped and vacuumed the floors.

“Our client, Opal, repeated over and over, ‘I’m going to sleep so well tonight,’” said Robyn. “She was so appreciative and such a pleasure to be around.”

Opal has lived in her house since the early 1960s, raising two sons while working in administrative support at City College. She came to San Francisco from her home state of Louisiana to attend night school while taking care of her sister’s child during the day.

“I never thought I’d join that club — old people who can’t do everything for themselves. But here I am,” she says. “I’m so grateful for Meals On Wheels of San Francisco.”

MOWSF VolunteersSpring Cleaning All Year Round: Tidy a home and touch a heart

“Spring Cleaning All Year Round” provides a meaningful one-time volunteering experience and is a great way to interact directly with the seniors MOWSF serves. This awesome team-building activity offers volunteers a simple and fun way to engage in service.

To sign up or to learn more about “Spring Cleaning All Year Round” and other volunteer opportunities, contact Danie Belfield, Director of Volunteers, at or (415) 343-1311.