Rogelio, a 73-year-old Argentina native and longtime Upper West Sider. Rogelio, who is a graduate of both City College and Hunter College and spent over 20 years as a social worker, spent his career fighting for NYC’s homeless population. Now, in his time of need, he has found support in two of NYC’s most vital organizations: God’s Love We Deliver and SAGE.
The second youngest of five brothers, Rogelio came to the U.S. in his twenties looking to go back to school for a brighter future. He wanted to give back and help people in need. Working full time as well as going to school, Rogelio earned a bachelor’s degree from City College and a master’s degree in social work from Hunter College. He then worked as a social worker for more than 20 years, primarily with New York’s homeless. During the AIDS crisis, Rogelio worked for the New York Department of Health’s AIDS hotline.
Rogelio spent most of his life helping others, but all that changed when he got sick. It was time for him to ask for help. A few years ago, Rogelio had a stroke and lost consciousness. After being rushed to the hospital, he was diagnosed with congestive heart failure, diabetes and osteoarthritis. His life would never be the same. Every day became more difficult than the last. He could only stand for five minutes at a time, breathing was difficult, and cooking was dangerous. Rogelio is now connected to an oxygen tank 24 hours a day.
Realizing that he could no longer care for himself adequately, let alone anyone else, a social worker from the hospital connected Rogelio with the services he needed, including God’s Love. He immediately felt relief once he started receiving nutritious, medically tailored meals from God’s Love delivered to his home. He no longer had to worry about cooking and was grateful to be able to focus on how much he loves our food.
And when Rogelio sits down each day to enjoy our meals, he knows why his delicious food is so good for him. Like all our clients, Rogelio gets regular nutrition counseling sessions with our Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs), and when he first signed up for our program, he told our RDNs that he needed meals with low sugar because of his diabetes. Our RDNs said they’d take care of it, and they designed his entire menu around his diabetes, heart disease and COPD. His doctors remark often on how much his health has improved, including his triglyceride levels.
“My doctor told me my blood is better than his!”
Rogelio no longer has to worry about how he’s going to provide healthy food for himself. He loves the variety of meals and how much independence they give him.
“I love that I get to choose what I want to eat when I want to eat it.”
Though Rogelio’s home health aide visits three days a week, on the other days, Rogelio spends almost all of his time alone. The meals that he receives from God’s Love keep him connected. Seeing his delivery driver is often the highlight of his day. He tells us,
“The people who deliver are beautiful people.”
“When I wake up and it’s my delivery day, I look forward to having contact with someone. I know that somebody cares. This is an organization that cares,” Rogelio says.
“Sometimes days pass when I don’t see anybody, and God’s Love is a friendly face. You feel like you’re alive, like you count. I love God’s Love We Deliver.”
Rogelio wants everyone at God’s Love, and everyone who supports clients like him, to know how important they are to him. He tells us, “Even if I don’t know your name, you’re a part of my family.”
SAGE, the world’s largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of LGBT older people, is also heavily involved in Rogelio’s life, providing him with a therapist and groups that he is able to attend three times per week. Both SAGE and God’s Love are focused on helping NYC’s vulnerable populations. For Rogelio, they have made him feel less isolated and have helped his health – both in body and spirit.