A Father and Son Dynamic Volunteer Duo!
October 1, 2022Jim Oswald

Buying groceries. It’s routine. But sometimes, the errand is more than just getting bread and toothpaste. Sometimes it changes lives. That’s the case with father and son team Joe and Joey, volunteers in the Meals on Wheels San Francisco Grocery Shopper program.

“It doesn’t just help her,” Joe said of Theresa, a Meals on Wheels recipient who they’ve been delivering groceries to for nearly a year. “We feel our lives are more meaningful.”


Each week, dedicated people from around San Francisco shop for and bring fresh groceries to people in the community so they can live in their homes independently. The program has about two dozen volunteers. Meals on Wheels San Francisco matches a volunteer with a local senior who can prepare their own meals but may not be able to get out to shop for necessities for themselves due to mobility or health issues. Volunteers shop, and the seniors pay for the groceries upon delivery. Joe and his son Joey are steadfast Grocery Shopper volunteers.


Theresa, lives close to Joe and Joey. Theresa’s husband passed away early in her two sons’ lives. So, she raised their kids on her own—and sent them off to Harvard. Now, she needs a helping hand from time to time.

The father/son team pick up her favorite items like cheese, tomatoes, avocados, and bakery items each week. Working together has helped Joe and Joey improve their communication and family bond.

Like all of us, Theresa has preferences that Joe and Joey have noticed. Joe knows what to do when Theresa’s favored brand of orange juice is not in stock. They also know exactly how she likes her bananas. These might seem like minor details, but we all have these preferences.

She also collects coupons. So, they arranged a way to get her coupons mid-week for their Saturday shopping. Joe has become a coupon clipper himself recently!

Over the past half-year, their relationship has blossomed. They’ve become friends! Now, Joe and Joey help around the house when they can—Joey even helped her fix a garden hose. They also pick up personal care items, like eye drops, when she needs them.

A high school student and a volunteer, Joey is all in.

“I thought it was a great thing to do,” he said. “It was on the more relaxed side and not a big commitment.” He added, “Meeting Theresa was great! She was extremely nice, and I enjoy talking to her. The first experience definitely made me more comfortable with delivering later on.”

It also has been a learning experience. Joey continued, “I find it really interesting to listen to her point of view because I have never really talked to people from her generation before.”

Joe agrees. “It’s more than help; it’s about making a connection with someone in your community.”


Joe works at the University of California San Francisco in genetic testing. For fun, he plays soccer and bridge. He’s gotten the whole family involved in the card game, including Joey. They play in the National Bridge Tournament as a team. He loves volunteering because he gets a different kind of interaction than he does at work.

Joey also volunteers with the robotics team at his high school. That usually means helping at Lego robotics events for kids and bringing the robots they make to events.

Volunteering with his son delights Joe. “It is a great father/son activity! It is a wonderful connection.”

Learn more about volunteer opportunities at Meals on Wheels San Francisco.

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