The Mainstream Nutrition and Health Center at St. Matthew's and St. Timothy's Church (WEME), on the West Side of Manhattan, provides 550 meals six days a week to homebound elderly people living in the mid and upper regions of Manhattan. With a fleet of five delivery vehicles the program serves over 700 individuals throughout the year. Many of the 30 dedicated staff members have been involved in the program for over 10 years and in addition to providing food a group of volunteers, Friendly Visitors, spend quality time with the seniors doing a variety of activities. The program director, Theresa DaSilva, and her dedicated staff, state that their mission is simpleif you are frail, if you are homebound, you are entitled to a meal and friendship. No-one will be turned away; no-one will be put on a waiting list. Many of the clients are referred by neighbors, hospitals and social workers. More than one out of three is over the age of 85 and quite frail, and many have mental or physical disabilities. In 2007, WEME will work to expand the Friendly Visitor program to provide companionship to special needs individuals as well.
Ula Pommer is among the many people that has benefited from the support of Episcopal Charities and the WEME program throughout the years. Ula says she has enjoyed the companionship and friendship offered by her Friendly Visitor and she is grateful to the dedicated workers that prepare her daily meals. Of Jewish heritage, Ula was born in Austria in 1919 and immigrated to the US when she was in her 20's. She lives alone in a one bedroom apartment in a building where many of the residents are senior citizens. She enjoys reading and classical musical and looks forward to time spent each day with her Friendly Visitor, Raymond Augustin. Raymond and the other Elder Care Visitors will spend precious time with these homebound seniors, sharing stories and laughter. They bring joy, warmth, and connection to people who would otherwise be alone. They vastly enrich the lives of hundreds of people every day.