Every year, thousands of Keller Williams agents nationwide take part in the company’s annual Red Day, a day that stands for Renew, Energize, and Donate. It is a rather pumped day of volunteering dedicated to giving back to various communities in need. It was created in 2009 as a way for KW associates to take time out from work and dedicate that time to various charities and causes.
Red Day always occurs on the second Thursday in May. This year, on May 8th, KWNYC chose to give back by having their agents and their entire leadership team volunteer for the day with Citymeals-on-Wheels, a New York City not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing meals for the city’s homebound elderly.
“We get 18,000 seniors fed in the city each day,” said Jose Luis Sanchez, the program coordinator for Citymeals who organizes the delivery program at the Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center on the Upper East Side. He also mentioned that the organization doesn’t just supply food to their recipients only during the week: “We provide weekend meals, meals during emergencies, and on holidays.” He added that these homebound seniors, many of whom surprisingly live in luxury buildings, depend on these meals and the visits. “They usually just come in contact with their doctors, so these visits mean a lot to them,” he told the KWNYC volunteers of their impending deliveries right before they departed for the morning.
Last year alone, with the help of its 12,200 devoted volunteers, Citymeals- a nonprofit organization that works in a public/private partnership with the New York City Department for the Aging- brought two million meals to some of the city’s frailest and most dependent elderly individuals aged 60 and over spread out over all five boroughs. 100% of all of the organization's public donations go to the preparation and delivery of the meals.
Volunteers start at 9:00 a.m. and head out to deliver meals around 10:00 a.m. after receiving several brief talks on how to properly provide the meals to the homebound elderly and what to do in case any emergencies arise—something Jose was thankful to say they have never experienced thus far. Still, just in case, he stressed that volunteers be sure to call 911 if a recipient is found injured or can’t come to the door.
After receiving their instructions, and fully equipped with large bags of food filled with both hot and cold meals, the KWNYC agents assembled in teams of three, lugged the insulated bags over their shoulders, and headed out on the rainy Thursday morning, eager to begin delivering to buildings in the area.
“This is an amazing, well-organized organization; this is great,” Said Dianne Weston, an associate broker for KWNYC who was the team leader for this group of volunteers. This was her second year participating in Red Day; last year KWNYC painted homes for those in need on this day. Eager to start delivering, she thanked Jose for organizing their day before heading out with the food alongside her team.
Another Location, Another Team
At the Carter Burden Senior Center located in the basement of the Jan Hus Presbyterian Church on 74th Street, the center was filled with seniors taking part in various activities. Every day, 112 seniors (on busy days they number as many as 130) trek to the spot to hang out with friends, take classes, partake in celebrations, and enjoy meals. Some come from as far away as Queens, just to spend time with their friends and the staff, who after years of visiting have inevitably become both. On this day you could see the room was filled with seniors socializing at large dining room hall tables, exchanging ideas and updates, retelling stories, and others just visibly appreciating the company of people—something the youth take for granted.
Their homebound peers who live in the area receive their meals from Citymeals volunteers via the senior center. These volunteers who travel there every day make it their duty to not just deliver the meals but to check up on the recipients as well.
“One time we had a recipient tell a volunteer that he had chest pains, but thought it was nothing. The volunteer contacted the recipient’s niece and she came immediately to take him to the hospital just to be certain. When they got the hospital, the elderly man had a heart attack. If the volunteer hadn’t taken action, who knows what would have happened,” said Isidro Saldana, the center’s volunteer coordinator for the past two years and a member of the organization for nine years.
After the Deliveries
Visibly still energetic and filled with Red Day pride, KWNYC volunteers returned to the senior center around 12:30 p.m. after spending the morning delivering meals to the area recipients. They all were very proud of the fact that they were able to dedicate some time to give back to the community through an experience that left them indeed renewed.
“We met this one woman who was 100 years old, and was like ‘I feel so good, I’m so happy you’re here!’” said Moustafa Moussa, a KWNYC agent who was volunteering on Red Day for the first time. He took notice of the fact that you don’t always know who is in need of assistance, adding that the particular building he and his team delivered to was a “Doorman building, with concierge. And some people had really nice apartments.”
All the volunteers reiterated the fact that the recipients of the meals were very appreciative and so elated just to have people do this for them—a small gesture that goes a long way. “One woman, who was so small that I had to bend down to greet her, was so appreciative of us coming out in the rain, and I told her that it was no problem, we wanted to give back,” said KWNYC agent Shane Mahoney with a smile.