June 2018

Victor, a Riordan High School student, learns all about Meals on Wheels from inside and outside.

I first spotted Victor on a breezy summer afternoon, crouched on his hands and knees under a tall snake plant. He was spreading mulch on the tiny strip of greenery just outside our kitchen. I yelled in his direction as I biked by, “Thank You. I hope we’re paying you for all your hard work!” He answered, “Nah. I’m just helping out.”

The next day, ‘helping out’ took the form of an early morning shift assembling hundreds of bags of groceries for low-income seniors. Victor worked fast and furiously, easily mingling with our boisterous and no-nonsense volunteer team, many of whom are half a century older than him. His concentration strayed from the grocery assembly line just long enough to coach 9 year-old-Garrett, the only younger volunteer, in the art of parking lot push-ups. “23, 24, 25, back straight,” Victor shouted, “26, 27, you can do it!”

Later that same day, Victor burst in to the office of our facilities team, ecstatic that he was offered a part time job cleaning grease traps in the kitchen. He proved himself a worthy sous-chef by arranging hundreds of baked potatoes during a frenzied day of meal preparations.

All of these responsibilities fall under the umbrella of his summer-of-service; a commitment Victor made through Riordan High School to fulfill 60 or more service hours in between his sophomore and junior year. He was inspired to volunteer at Meals on Wheels because he saw first-hand how important the meals were to keep seniors healthy and independent. He added, “I see the smiling faces of our happy clients and I wanted to give back some of my time to keep them happy."

For Victor, the service hours are more of a reward than a penance. He has a natural and abundant energy when it comes to helping his community. I asked him where he finds his motivation to get out of bed so early during the lazy, dog days of summer. He replied without hesitation, “The people are really nice. I love coming in to say ‘Hi.’ When I do this work, I feel accomplished at the end of the day.”

Victor is one of 2,400 volunteers of all ages who grease the wheels for Meals on Wheels. Volunteers are a critical component in our operation to prepare and deliver over 6,000 meals a day to seniors across San Francisco. In the years to come (too many to count), Victor hopes to become a cop or an EMT in San Francisco – two trades that seem to suit him very well. But for now, he’s got his hands full ‘helping out’ at Meals on Wheels. And for that, we are all very grateful.