Rockefeller Center will host Citymeals’ Chef’s Tribute June 4. ABOVE: The chefs from last year’s tribute

Let’s face it—New York is a city of furious energy and drive, but hidden behind anonymous doors across this metropolis are thousands of aging, homebound New Yorkers. Without Citymeals-on-Wheels, they might be forgotten and unsure where their next meal is coming from.

Citymeals is a nonprofit organization that raises private funds to prepare and deliver nutritious meals on weekends, holidays, and in emergencies for our most vulnerable neighbors, once the backbone of New York, who are now alone. Thanks to restaurant critic Gael Greene and the late chef James Beard, who founded Citymeals 30 years ago, these marvelous seniors are able to live at home, where they want to be.

I have delivered meals many times and was fortunate to have developed a wonderful friendship with Muriel, a very special Citymeals recipient whose advanced age rendered her homebound. For years, I would visit and we would chat and laugh. I made sure she got to her various medical appointments. I even taught her how to use a computer and e-mail. It opened up a whole new world for her.

There are more than 16,500 others just like Muriel across this city. Citymeals underwrote the preparation and delivery of more than 1.7 million meals last year and nearly 45 million since its founding. Each meal is hand-delivered. And because of adults living longer in their own homes, the aging of baby boomers, and the impact of the recent recession, the need for services like Citymeals-on-Wheels will increase over the next decade. Citymeals has reacted to these societal changes by creating new programs like our Mobile Food Pantry, which brings pantry food to our neediest meal recipients who are not able to access supplemental food on their own. We are also delivering extra fruit and vegetables to frail, aged people in communities lacking access to fresh produce or where the cost is prohibitive. Citymeals wants to ensure that those who are most at risk and hungry are reached and able to get the food they need.

Since our founding we have been fortunate to have the full force of the city’s restaurant community behind us. You’ll find renowned chefs gathering to create spectacular culinary creations at our annual Chefs’ Tribute to Citymeals-on-Wheels in Rockefeller Center. Into the wee hours of the morning, guests enjoy some of the best food in the world as they mingle with other Citymeals supporters and the chefs themselves. This year’s event, titled “Knives! Camera! Action! Star Chefs Salute the Silver Screen,” might be the most exciting yet as chefs create mouthwatering dishes inspired by their favorite movies. But perhaps I’m just partial to the theme.

It’s only through the contributions of these generous chefs and our corporate and individual donors that Citymeals ensures those in need can enjoy the comfort of a nutritious meal and the compassion of a friendly meal deliverer.

I’ve been blessed with a marvelous career. Yet between the rewards and the thrill of performing, I still have a deep sense of personal fulfillment as a Citymeals-on-Wheels volunteer and board member. When Muriel died, it only fueled my desire to do more, and I urge you all to join me. There’s always a way to help—donate, volunteer, bring your children on a delivery, and teach them the importance of giving back.

You’ll be glad you did.

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