Meals On Wheels of San Francisco

MOWSF Senior Sheldon with Dog Izzy

Meet MOWSF Senior Sheldon: How a Social Worker and Volunteer Got Him a New Chair

Posted August 3, 2015

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MOWSF Senior Sheldon's New Chair!

Crystal found this chair at the Salvation Army.

MOWSF Senior Sheldon and his beloved dog Izzy live in a Single Room Occupancy Hotel (SRO) on the edge of the Tenderloin. Sheldon, who turned 64 this spring, suffers from arterial sclerosis, poor circulation and chronic pain in his legs. Most of his health problems stem from a car accident 20 years ago — one in which he survived, but his family did not.

Sheldon has been a MOWSF client since 2012. “I don’t have a kitchen, and it’s been harder and harder for me to move around,” he says. “Without Meals On Wheels of San Francisco, I wouldn’t be getting healthy food and eating wholesome meals.”

A few months ago, during an annual visit, Sheldon told MOWSF social worker Crystal that the one thing he would like was a new chair. “I always ask if there is anything they need,” says Crystal. “And all he had was this 20-year-old office chair that he’d padded with pillows.” It was dirty, she added, and Sheldon, who might have to get an amputation, couldn’t elevate his legs.

MOWSF Senior Sheldon with Dog Izzy

Sheldon with his dog Izzy, who he adopted on Dec. 31, 2014.

The next week, Crystal spotted a barely used recliner, complete with remote control, at the Salvation Army. Though there was no price tag, the manager told Crystal she could have the chair, which would cost more than $1,000 new, for $45. And just her luck, they were also having a special 15% off sale! There was only one hitch: The chair needed to be picked up the next day, or she’d have to pay $25 a day to store it.

Though it was after work hours, Crystal called MOWSF Volunteer Manager Jan, who quickly reached out to her network of delivery volunteers. MOWSF Volunteer Chuck answered the call, and the next day they picked up the recliner. Once at Sheldon’s SRO, it seemed as if they might not be able to give Sheldon the chair after all. They almost didn’t fit it into the elevator, and then it had to be squeezed around the L-shaped entrance to Sheldon’s room. Once inside, however, the chair fit just right.

“I love the chair. It’s perfect, and I can keep my legs up,” says Sheldon, who sometimes naps in the chair with his dog on his lap. “Crystal is a really wonderful person. I don’t know if I can thank her enough for what she did.”

And despite the sweat and strain, MOWSF Volunteer Chuck said the reward for getting the chair up to Sheldon’s room was getting to meet Sheldon himself. “Volunteering has turned out to be the best thing I’ve ever done,” he says. “I feel like what I’ve received in return – the reward of knowing I’ve made a difference in people’s lives — far exceeds the value of the small things I’ve done.”