Thursday, July 31, 2014

Aid For Friends Feeding the Isolated Homebound in Philadelphia

Aid For Friends is a wonderful organization in Phiadelphia.

Aid For Friends

With nothing more than an extra serving from her family’s dinner, some aluminum foil and a heart called to help those in need, Rita Ungaro-Schiavone founded Aid For Friends in 1974.

Struck by the isolation and desperate need of those she met through her work with the Frankford YWCA , Rita began bringing frozen home-cooked meals with her as she visited her shut-in clients. Struggling with loneliness, despair, and physical suffering, many of Rita’s clients had no friends or families to share their burdens and help care for them.  Health issues – many of them very serious – were exacerbated by emotional distress, lack of human interaction, and an inadequate diet.  They were alone and hungry – lacking for  basic needs like human contact and nutritious food.  Rita saw that her visits made a huge impact on the quality of life of her clients.

Realizing that the need was greater than her personal ability to address it, Rita enlisted the help of her friends in the Christian Family Movement, parishioners from her home parish of St. Jerome and members and leadership of the Frankford YWCA.  Through her continued advocacy for this cause, speaking in churches and to community groups across the city and suburbs of Philadelphia, Rita grew Aid for Friends from its fledgling roots in one parish in Northeast Philadelphia to its current operation throughout the five-county region over a network of more than 200 churches, synagogues and community meal centers.  In addition to the home visits and meal deliveries, AFF provides aid and advocacy, including caregiver support, safety assessments, and other assistance as needed, to help our friends survive in their own homes and maintain their independence.

More than 15 million meals, 16,000 volunteers and 14,000 client friends later, Aid For Friends continues the work Rita started – providing food and friendship to those in need.
  - See more at:

The mission of Aid for Friends ( AFF)  is to alleviate the hunger and loneliness of isolated homebound individuals.  Our volunteers visit with client friends throughout the five-county Greater Philadelphia region, providing home-cooked meals and life-enhancing friendship.  All our services are provided free of charge.
- See more at:

“Dorothy died yesterday in her sleep yesterday. She wasn’t hungry…she wasn’t cold…she wasn’t lonely…she was loved because of Aid For Friends.”
- Rita Ungaro-Schiavone, AFF Founder, speaking about one of AFF’s first clients.

 “If anyone has enough of this world’s goods and sees one of his brothers or sisters in need yet fails to help him, how can the love of God be living in him?  My children, our love is not to be just words or mere talk but something real and active.”
- John 3: 17-18

Johnny’s Story

Johnny lives in Germantown.  His life has not been easy.  After serving in the Vietnam War, he returned home and worked for many years until the company went out of business.  Unable to find another full-time job, Johnny moved in with his parents.  Being musically talented – able to play jazz piano and saxophone - he made a living playing at a club in Philadelphia while caring for his parents until they passed away in quick succession. A year later, tragedy struck:  the house burned down in a terrible fire, killing his sister and destroying his instruments.  It was a devastating blow to Johnny.

Johnny is now 59 years old and living in an apartment on SSI income of $450.00 a month.  He suffers from multiple serious ailments and from malnutrition as well.  He is bedridden because he does not have the physical strength to walk.  He sleeps on his mattress on the floor and gets around by crawling.  Johnny’s health and living conditions are not good, but he is getting stronger from the meals from AFF and – just as important – he has a measure of happiness in his life that comes from having a friend who cares about him.

“He is there for me.”
-          Quotation from a shut-in who has multiple serious illnesses and has been served by Aid For Friends for 15 years.  She has been unable to leave her home except by ambulance for her frequent hospitalizations.   Each week her AFF visitor brings dinners, soups and breakfast bags, and he shops for her when needed.

Copies of two notes to AFF received from appreciative client/friends:
“A grateful thank you for the services you provide and the volunteers.  They are a special caring group.  I look forward to the visits and fellowship each time they come. Thank you again.”  
-           DL

“Dear Friends, I thank you for the help you have given me.  The meals brought me back to life when I came home from the hospital.  I don’t know what I would do without them.  Thank you.”  
-          RS

No comments: