By Jessica Easthope
Bob Garnette has braved the pandemic, so a little — or a lot of snow — is an obstacle he’s willing to overcome.
For the last 14 years Bob’s been driving around Queens delivering food to homebound seniors for Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens home delivered meals program, but none of those years were anything like this.
“It’s been a struggle for them, they can’t get out and especially on a day like today, they really appreciate the meals,” said Bob.
9,000 meals-a-month used to be average, but when the pandemic hit, that number shot up. In December Catholic Charities delivered more than 13,000 meals to seniors in Northeast Queens. Over the course of the pandemic, it’s taken on more than 200 new clients, some of whom haven’t left their homes in nearly a year, especially not on days like this.
“Now we’ve really had to take on that role of being, sometimes, the only person they see delivering that hot meal and their point person to the outside world letting their families and case workers know how they’ve been doing and helping with whatever we can,” said Jennifer Llamosi, the program manager.
Over the years, Bob has gotten to know his clients and they’ve gotten to know him. He knows what they like and don’t like. Every senior signed up for the program gets a meal, juice, bread and milk — the basics. But the pandemic has made doing this job anything but simple.
“We have a mask on, we have the meal in a plastic bag, we put it on the door knob, we knock, stand six feet away, wait for the client to come out so it’s not like before when we could just walk in and put it on that client’s table,” Jennifer explained.
But the distance doesn’t break the bond. Bob’s connection to the seniors on his route comes with loss.
“I’ve known these people for a number of years so it has an effect on you,” he told Currents News. “You try not to let it wear you down but they always pop back into your head, as soon as you pass their house and they’re not there anymore, so there is some sadness.”
The feeling of loss might always be there, but so will the reward of making a difference long after the snow melts.