8-26-20
 
Good Afternoon!
 
It’s hard to believe that we are in our sixth month of COVID-19 response but we just want to again say THANK YOU for your support during this unprecedented public health crisis. These past few months highlight how our community is stronger together. It's because of you that our seniors know they are not forgotten and even through the toughest times their community is prepared to step up for them.
 
 
Did you know that 89% of Meals on Wheels programs across the county have seen a significant increase in demand for services since March? Because of you, we have been able to meet that demand and provide almost 90,000 extra frozen and shelf stable meals over the last 5 months so everyone is prepared with extra food in these uncertain times.
 
Also due to your support, we have been able to add over 1,000 new clients to our program and the number continues to grow! While this means quality of life is being improved for 1,000 more of our neighbors, we know there are more people who need help. They simply aren’t able to talk to the right people to learn about resources. In fact, we’ve seen referrals go down – because people aren’t going to the doctor, and many in social services aren’t making house calls so they cannot as easily identify when help is needed. Some people might ask for help when they need it, but there are also those whose pride won’t let them. That means we aren’t hearing from people when we can help them. Your referrals will help ensure we are serving those with the most need. You can learn more about who is eligible to receive service on our website.
 
Our thoughts and prayers are with all who have been affected by COVID-19. Several of our Meals on Wheels San Antonio staff members’ lives have also been affected and yet they make sure we can continue to deliver more than a meal to those we serve. While we all face unknowns every day, one thing is certain and it’s that safety is at the center of everything we are doing. This is why we continue to deliver meals the way we are delivering them, and includes everything from daily food preparation to safe face-to-face interactions with our volunteers and clients. Masks are required and temperatures are checked on every person who might handle a food tray, or knock on a door.
 
We so appreciate your continued support and encouragement through this time. We continue to look to the future and know we will come out of this a better organization, more equipped to serve our immobile neighbors, because of YOU!
 
If you are a volunteer or manage a volunteer team, please reach out to our Community Engagement Director, Kristin Rivera. If you know of seniors or others unable to make their own meals who could benefit from our services, or organizations that we could partner with to support more of our neighbors, please let us know! You can also contact Forrest Myane, our Chief Development Officer.
 
To stay updated on our efforts please visit our website or see our latest media backgrounder here.
 
Thank you again for all your support during this time.
 
Stay safe!
 
Vinsen Faris, CFRE
Chief Executive Officer
 

5-29-2020

 
Good Afternoon!
 
It’s hard to believe that we are rounding out our third month of COVID-19 response but we just want to say THANK YOU again for your support during this unprecedented public health crisis. Because of you, our seniors know that even through the toughest times their community is prepared to step up and ensure they are not forgotten. Thank you also to all of our volunteers and supporters who stayed home! The safety of our clients and our volunteers is our number one priority. Because of your willingness to take a step back, we were confident in knowing that you remained safe, and that you were cheering us on all the way. Also due to your support, we have been able to add almost 1,000 new clients to our program and the number continues to grow!
 
Although this pandemic presented new challenges to meal delivery, it has also strengthened our services -- and sharpened our focus on efficiency and effectiveness. We have spent the last month planning for a gradual return to an even better version of our typical delivery model and in the month of June we hope to bring back hot meal service to our clients, as well as supplementing their meals with more beverages and fresh fruit. We also will be slowly returning our volunteers to their typical routes and opening up a small number of pickup points. We know our volunteers miss seeing their regular clients and we are excited to reunite them soon!
 
As we look to reinstate familiar processes, our number one priority is the continued safety of our clients, our volunteers and our staff. While things are starting to feel normal with more and more places opening back up, we are aware that it isn't how it was before and want to make sure we do what's safest for everyone.
 
We so appreciate your continued support and encouragement through this time. We will come out of this a better organization, more equipped to serve our aging neighbors, because of YOU!
 
If you are a volunteer or manage a volunteer team, please feel free to email our Community Engagement Director, Kristin Rivera, with any questions. If you know of seniors who could benefit from our services, or organizations that we could partner with to support more of our neighbors, please let us know! You can also email Forrest Myane, our Chief Development Officer.
 
To stay updated on our efforts please visit our website or see our latest media backgrounder here.
 
Thank you again for all your support during this time.
 
Stay safe!
 
Vinsen Faris, CFRE
Chief Executive Officer
 

4-30-2020

Good Afternoon,
 
It was only 7 weeks ago that our world was turned upside down with the emergence and spread of COVID-19. However, with quick action from amazing supporters like you, our services have grown exponentially. Our meal delivery program, now modified to meet new production and delivery challenges, is serving over 3,900 seniors in our community. Your support over the past seven weeks has been critical in our ability to deliver nutritious meals, friendly visits and safety checks to older and disabled neighbors.
 
As you know, many will be reopening their doors tomorrow and we’re excited because everyone done their part to get us to this point. However, Meals on Wheels’ focus now and always, is on the health and safety of our clients, volunteers, and staff.  We are in no rush to put anyone at risk, and will continue to produce and deliver the meals by the safest means possible. We will continue to follow CDC and San Antonio Metropolitan Health recommendations regarding the use of face masks and physical distancing, along with temperature checking staff and volunteers. Our Grace Place centers will remain closed for now and we will continue to perform our client assessments virtually, instead of in-person, to minimize risk to our clients.
 
Though it may be some time before things are back to normal, we look forward to rebuilding this organization based on lessons learned during this extreme period. As always, we will focus on growing and providing services with the most efficiency and effectiveness possible. 
 
You are making a difference in the lives of thousands of people on a daily basis- clients, volunteers and staff. All of your gifts, of both time and treasure make this possible. This is summed up best in the following video from Valero, whose staff have been volunteering and visiting seniors for over 10 years.

If you’d like to stay updated on our efforts please visit mowsatx.org/coronavirus. Your time is valuable and you should have more of it, so we won’t reach out again unless there are major changes in our day-to-day.
 
Thank you again for all your support during this time.
 
Stay safe!
 
Vinsen Faris, CFRE
Chief Executive Officer

 


4-21-2020

Good Afternoon,
 
I knew San Antonio was special when I moved here four years ago from North Texas to serve as CEO for Meals on Wheels San Antonio. I knew it was a city with a big heart and a city where residents treated each other like family.
 
Never has this city’s sense of family been more apparent than in the days since COVID-19 has taken over our lives. I could not be prouder of San Antonio and our residents, political leaders, nonprofits, corporate citizens, religious institutions, restaurants and small businesses. We are all working together to get through this and take care of our neighbors.
 
COVID-19 has every nonprofit stretching its dollars, staff and volunteers to serve clients. In this time of massive job loss, hunger is an even more present issue. At Meals on Wheels, we see this hunger on a daily basis through our clients who are unable to leave their homes to access food — now made even worse by the fear of encountering the novel coronavirus.
 
This is a time when many San Antonians’ next meal feels uncertain. But once again, our city has stepped up. We all saw the photos of the families waiting in their cars for food last week. Thousands of vehicles full of hungry San Antonians, asking for help. Together, this city joined arms to raise money for the San Antonio Food Bank to support its efforts to make sure no one goes hungry.
 
Local restaurants are turning into grocery stores, churches are delivering meals to their congregations, neighbors are buying groceries for neighbors who are afraid to leave home. We’re all making sure that San Antonians don’t go hungry.
 
Those served by Meals on Wheels are the unseen in our community, the isolated and homebound neighbors who have no one to turn to for help with the basics like a nutritious meal. We’re making sure our neighbors are OK and they know someone cares about them.
 
In 2019, we provided more than 1 million meals to seniors in and around Bexar County, visiting more than 5,000 clients’ homes each weekday. Since March 13, we’ve delivered an additional 30,000 meals to those we serve, helped smaller programs by providing their clients with more than 2,000 extra meals and added almost 400 new clients.
 
Volunteers now go through daily temperature checks and graciously deliver any route needed, regardless of how far it is from their normal delivery territory. While we have long been invited across the thresholds of homes, we now practice social distancing. After hunger and nutrition, social isolation and loneliness are the important health factors we address. COVID-19 compounds isolation and reminds us why our delivery visits and safety checks are just as needed as the nourishment we provide.
 
When our clients’ need for meals outpaced the capacity of our kitchen, we worked quickly to create new partnerships with The Chow Train, chef Johnny Hernandez and others. They have answered the call to help prepare thousands more meals that we don’t have the space to prepare ourselves in our current kitchen. Local hotels emptied their coolers to bring us even more food to serve our clients.
 
Over the past few weeks, donations to Meals on Wheels have been pouring in from people and companies large and small. The media have helped us tell our story, from articles in the Express-News, spots on local TV stations and KSAT’s first-ever virtual community phone bank that helped us raise more than $40,000 to provide emergency meals. San Antonio came to our rescue when our phones started ringing nonstop and supported our ability to grow our clientele by double digits.
 
Now, more than ever, our elderly and disabled neighbors are depending on us. I have never been so proud of our volunteers, our donors, our staff and you, San Antonio. Every donation, volunteer hour and positive word, not just to us but to all who are serving in this time, makes a difference.
 
We are going to be here long after the COVID-19 crisis passes. And we will be a better organization in a better community providing better services for our elderly neighbors. Thank you for caring and thank you for responding.
 
If you'd like to stay updated on our efforts here’s a link to the backgrounder we are sharing with media that contains more detail on what we’re doing to continue to safely serve the seniors of San Antonio.
 
Thank you again for all your support during this time.
 
Stay safe!
 
Vinsen Faris, CFRE
Chief Executive Officer

4-14-2020

Good Afternoon,
 
I love seeing the scenes on TV where people are cheering and applauding the front line hospital workers putting themselves at risk for the health and wellness of others. It’s a reminder to us all that there are selfless earth angels out there making a difference.
 
I am blessed in this way every single day. 
 
It takes hundreds of community volunteers and partners to ensure the elderly and disabled folks we serve are safe, fed, and not isolated from the rest of the world. And even in this pandemic, we have at least 80 volunteers every day who are committed to our clients. I also watch as families care and worry about their elder family members who are the most at risk during this crisis.
 
We were reminded recently that some of those family caregivers are also nurses on the front lines.
 
Mrs. Evelyn’s husband James passed away about 8 years ago. They were married 60 years! “He was a wonderful husband and it was love at first site,” she said. They met on a blind date and Evelyn said she never dated anyone after that first date with James. She is 86 years old and worked as a bookkeeper for the Northside School District for 34 years. “I loved that job, I could be around the kids but didn’t have to put up with them!”
 
Evelyn has been receiving meals from Meals on Wheels for about 6 months since she started on hospice. Her son and daughter-in-law are both nurses and referred their mom to Meals on Wheels. “I can’t get out and do anything. But of course at 86, I shouldn’t be out anyway,” she chuckled. She likes to talk on the phone and has several girlfriends from kindergarten she still visits with by phone weekly. Between her friends, she was in seven weddings over the years. “Of course that was a long time ago, now all I have is the phone.” All of their husbands passed away at about the same time.
 
Evelyn lives at home alone with her three cats Bitsy, Katie and Lucky. She sleeps nightly in her recliner, a very fancy electrical chair that her son got her because she just can’t sleep in a regular bed anymore. She keeps the TV on all the time for company, but says she doesn’t know what she would do without her cats, who are clearly family. 
 
Her son comes to visit her Saturdays to check on her and she has a nurse who provides weekly visits as well. Evelyn worries about her son every day, but as nurses both he and her daughter-in-law have to go to work every day. “I worry about them too because they’re the ones who take care of me.”
 
She proudly shared that her son calls her every single night around bedtime. “He has not missed a night in years!”
 
Thank you all for what you are doing for others during this time. Every action is making a difference – sometimes we don’t realize that just a phone call can make all the difference. This is my call to you – thanking you for caring and acting. I appreciate you more than these few words can ever express.
 
Our operations remain stable this week as we continue to deliver so much more than a meal. Here’s a link to the backgrounder we are sharing with media that contains more detail on what we’re doing to continue to safely serve the seniors of San Antonio.
 
Thank you again for all your support during this time.
 
Stay safe!
 
Vinsen Faris, CFRE
Chief Executive Officer

4-07-2020

Good Afternoon, 
 
We feel it, we hear the news stories about it, and we are hanging on until the folks in charge release us from our homes and social distancing. It’s not really the hardest thing in the world to do, but it’s getting old. Isolation. Not seeing our extended family and friends. It’s hard.
 
After hunger and nutrition, social isolation and loneliness are the second most important health factor we address at Meals on Wheels San Antonio.  
 
An article in Perspectives in Psychological Science reports that feelings of loneliness are associated with negative health effects comparable to smoking 15 cigarettes per day. Another study reports that seniors who feel lonely and isolated are more likely to report having poor physical and/or mental health. Additionally, a 2012 study by the University of California at San Francisco shows that 43% of seniors report being lonely. Of those studied who reported feeling lonely, the researchers measured a 59% greater risk of mental and physical decline and a 45% increase in their risk for death.
 
COVID-19 compounds isolation and reminds us why Meals on Wheels friendly visits and safety checks are just as important as the food we serve.    
 
During a recent food delivery, Jim, a client, let us know we would be the only people he was seeing. Jim asked his family to stop visiting him “for the time being.” He knows he is at higher risk because he’s in his 90s and recently released from the hospital. Amanda, a staff member, said “we cannot assume that the seniors we serve are getting help from their children, friends, or relatives. They are counting on Meals on Wheels.”  
 
And since we’ve had to change some of our routes, clients are missing their regular volunteers and staff delivery drivers. As we call to check on them, we are hearing so many complements. “Thank Juan for doing such a good job,” Nora, another client told me. And client Evelyn said, “thank Elvis for me – he is always so kind and helpful.” 
 
Volunteers and staff continue to deliver meals. And we are bringing on new clients, 267 since March 13. We’ve served an additional 30,000 meals to our clients and helped smaller surrounding programs by providing their clients with 2,000 meals.  
 
Thank you so much for your support during this time. Now, more than ever, elder and disabled neighbors are depending on all of us. Attached is the updated backgrounder we are sharing with media that contains more detail on what we’re doing to safely serve the the most vulnerable in the San Antonio area.
 
Thank you again for all your support during this time.
 
Stay safe!
 
Vinsen Faris, CFRE
Chief Executive Officer

4-02-2020

Good Afternoon, 
 
It’s a scary time for all of us right now but even scarier for our senior neighbors in the community. Many live alone and are not able to leave their homes and some just need someone to talk to. Thanks to you, all week long we have been able to deliver meals to our clients and hear their stories. 
 
Clients like Mr. Flores and his wife depend on Meals on Wheels to not only receive meals but also get a safety check from a volunteer or staff member. The Flores’ live on a limited income and don’t have the means to pick up food or cook. “I know that I’ll be able to eat tomorrow thanks to them [Meals on Wheels],” Mr. Flores says. 
 
Karen, another client, also told our team that she appreciates us for “taking care of her.”
 
We are finding out that so many people want to help.  We recently partnered with two local chefs who are cooking meals for our clients.  The nonprofit Chow Train is making meals daily out of Chef Jason Dady’s downtown Range restaurant. The Chow Train is donating food and labor. Chef Johnny Hernandez and the La Gloria culinary team are making extra meals out of the La Gloria restaurant.  Chef Johnny was inspired to serve at-risk seniors and help La Gloria staff remain employed through this collaboration.
 
I’ll continue to send you updates as we work every day to provide so much more than a meal. If you'd like to know more, please see the backgrounder we are sharing with media that contains more detail on what we’re doing to continue to safely serve the seniors of San Antonio.
 
Thank you again for all your support during this time.
 
Stay safe!
 
Vinsen Faris, CFRE
Chief Executive Officer

3-31-2020

Good afternoon,
 
I am so grateful for the media’s coverage of the heroic response by so many in our community. People like you who are supporting the older, at-risk neighbors we serve. Please know that we are making sure our clients do not go hungry and we are calling to check-in – making sure they’re doing OK during this surreal pandemic.
 
We are receiving more calls for help each day. We are adding new clients and meeting requests as soon as we are able. The need is so great!
 
One of our programs that isn’t getting quite as much attention, but weighs heavy on my mind is Grace Place. Two weeks ago, to ensure client safety we temporarily suspended services at Grace Place Alzheimer’s Activity Centers. Grace Place provides daily care and activities for those living with Alzheimer’s and other dementia related diseases. The team also provides, respite, and support for caregivers.
 
Although the program has been suspended, we continue to employ all Grace Place staff. These staff members are calling the Grace Place clients and their caregivers. I wanted to share some of what we are hearing from Grace Place caregivers:
  • Anita was in the hospital, but now she’s out and doing fine, her caregiver shared.  She won’t put her lipstick on every day because she isn’t “going to work,” she said. Our nurse assistant talked to Anita on the phone and told her she needs to put her lips on every day because she is “working from home!” It did the trick.
  • Linda is staying healthy and every morning she gets ready and says I’m dressed up to go to Grace Place! She misses it.
  • Joe can’t understand why he can’t come to Grace Place and be around his friends.
  • Meredith is doing well but sometimes she gets confused. Meredith was in the car, with her caregiver, when she suddenly said, “it’s time to do our exercises!” So she started to move her legs on the side of the car and doing her Grace Place exercises! 
     
We are reassured that Grace Place clients have loving caretakers. But I wanted to share yet another way your donations can make a difference.  
 
Again, I’ll continue to send you updates as we work every day to provide so much more than a meal. If you'd like to know more, please see the backgrounder we are sharing with media that contains more detail on what we’re doing to continue to safely serve the seniors of San Antonio.
 
Thank you again for all your support during this time.
 
Stay safe!
 
Vinsen Faris, CFRE
Chief Executive Officer

3-26-20

Good afternoon,
 
As I watch the amazing selfless response from the community, our partners, and employees, I know that we are saving lives. I pray that we can continue to do so during these unprecedented times. 
 
And then I was reminded that this is the work we do every single day.   
On one of our “check-in” calls this weekend, a client shared how much she loves the food. She told us: “I used to be 80 pounds. I looked horrible and felt horrible. I thought it was the end. But then I got on Meals on Wheels and I’m about 120 pounds now. You all helped save my life.”
 
Thank you again for being a part of the solution that allows seniors to age in place with dignity and respect. 
 
This week, in addition to the regular meal delivery, clients received an emergency food box with the equivalent of 4 days worth of food that clients can open easily and requires minimal preparation. We continue to receive calls from elderly community members in need of services. We are onboarding clients as soon as we are able. 
 
I’ll continue to send you updates as we work every day to provide so much more than a meal. If you'd like to know more, please see the backgrounder we are sharing with media that contains more detail on what we’re doing to continue to safely serve the seniors of San Antonio.
 
Thank you again for all your support during this time.
 
Stay safe!
 
Vinsen Faris, CFRE
Chief Executive Officer

3-24-20

Good afternoon,
 
As a valued supporter of Meals on Wheels San Antonio, we want to keep you updated on our response to the COVID-19 situation. 
 
Yesterday Mayor Ron Nirenberg issued tighter restrictions for residents and businesses in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. Meals on Wheels San Antonio remains an essential service to the 5,000 homebound senior clients we serve every year and we remain exempt from this ban. With your help, we are doing everything we can to safely provide nutrition to our at-risk senior neighbors.
 
This week our team consolidated delivery routes, reduced meal distribution points to one location and began distributing chilled meals and emergency food boxes in a new schedule. These operational shifts enable us to deliver as much food into clients’ homes as efficiently as possible. We’ve moved from “what if” to “even if” in our mindset to stay focused on our mission to deliver meals as long as possible. Social distancing continues when delivering in order to keep clients safe. We will continue to utilize both staff and volunteer delivery drivers and will work with community partners and our current volunteer force as long as we can.
 
Our staff is working to call each client and check in on them, as well performing phone assessments for clients who have been referred to us during this time. We are currently serving 3,000 clients a day are adding more each week. 
 
We received this note from a staff member calling our clients and seniors requesting new services: 
 
”It has been an emotional roller coaster speaking with individuals who are looking to start services with us and our current clients. Everyone is so appreciative of the work we do for them and our community. One call that stands out, and brought me to tears of joy, was a VM message I was returning to an elderly lady needing assistance. When she answered I introduced myself and Meals on Wheels, and her voice lit up and she informed me that she was just speaking with her husband, who passed away, to send her blessings and then I called. I had to take a second to swallow the lump in my throat. She says that she has no family or support team and that she is alone and lonely with no steady source of healthy food. I took a few minutes longer to talk with her to let her know she is not alone. This day has brought many more wonderful conversations. I am grateful to be a part of such a wonderful organization.“
 
Thank you again for your ongoing support. We’ll continue to keep you updated as this situation continues. If you'd like to know more, please see the backgrounder we are sharing with media that contains more detail on what we’re doing to continue to safely serve the seniors of San Antonio.
 
Thank you again for all your support during this time.
 
Stay safe!
 
Vinsen Faris, CFRE
Chief Executive Officer