Meals on Wheels driver, Daniel Chen, says his job taught him how to have compassion for other people in need.
Above: Daniel Chen retires from Meals on Wheels San Francisco after 18 years of serving homebound seniors throughout the City.
Below: King for the day! Co-workers celebrate and honor Daniel on his last day at work.
For Daniel Chen, age 66, driving and delivering meals to Bay Area seniors for Meals on Wheels San Francisco was a great fit. “I was really well suited for this job because I don't think I could work in an office,” Chen said.
Daniel retired in February from Meals on Wheels after 18 years and within the past few years, delivering as much as 50 meals a day to homes throughout the City. That’s quite an impact! His interactions with the clients were always memorable and he liked making that impact.
“Over the years, I've realized that, of course, everyone needs to eat and have food. But for a lot of the clients, just that little bit of human contact could be even more important than food,” said Chen. “I liked my job. I liked helping people and I was able to listen to the clients and develop relationships with some.”
Daniel, a former librarian who lived in Los Angeles prior to moving to the Bay Area, has delivered meals to pretty much every neighborhood in San Francisco from the Outer Mission, Excelsior, the Sunset, Tenderloin, Chinatown, and the Sunset.
Delivering meals is a physically challenging job. Probably deceptively so. It requires a lot of getting in and out of the truck, lifting, walking, and climbing flights of stairs, cargo in hand. Repeat all of those activities 50 times a day!
“The most challenging part of being a driver is that sometimes you meet a mean client -- but I have compassion for them too,” Chen explains.
Daniel recounts how on one occasion, a client threw his newly delivered meals back at him. Daniel wasn’t sure why this occurred – it certainly “was unusual.”
Now that he's retired, Daniel wants to continue his physical fitness to stay healthy.
“I'm going to try to go hiking maybe three times a week while I still can,” he said. "The hikes are getting a little harder. But I'm diabetic, and want to keep up these activities.”
Enjoy the hikes, Daniel, you’ve earned it!