Listening to Dr. Salinas

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By Season of Giving

Adriana Riano, Beyond Hunger's Program Manager, loves to talk about Dr. Salinas. In her own words, here's why:

Dr. Salinas belongs to the first group of clients enrolled in the Home Delivery Program back in 2016. During that first year of the program, I was the main person calling clients to get their food choices every month. At the time, talking to Dr. Salinas was one of my most dreaded tasks.

I didn't understand why he was always unhappy with our food options, because I thought they were pretty good. I explained repeatedly that we were limited to what was available at the local food bank. Providing items like "chorizo" or "crunchy peanut butter" was out of our control. One day Dr. Salinas randomly asked me: "Adriana, do you like arroz con pollo?" This is a popular Spanish dish that I happen to love. I quickly replied, "Yes, I love it!" He laughed and proceeded to invite me to his home for dinner. While I was not able to share a meal with him, that invitation alone changed everything.

Since then I have learned many things about Dr. Salinas. For example, he lives alone and doesn't have any family close by. What he really wants is someone to talk to. When he calls, we joke around, he gives me a hard time, and I enjoy every minute of it. 

Recently, I received a big surprise when Dr. Salinas came to visit me here at my office. This alone was a beautiful gesture. He is homebound and needed the assistance of his home caregiver to arrive here. With difficulty, he made his way down the stairs to my office where he needed to sit for several minutes before he could talk. He wanted to see where I worked so he could visualize the "whole organization." To me, that made the gesture even more special. His visit made my day! (Even though he asked me when we were going to get crunchy peanut butter.)

Dr. Salinas' story resembles the story of many of our Home Delivery Program clients. A recent AARP review identified loneliness and social isolation as major problems for older adults and are linked with negative physical and mental health consequences including depression, cardiovascular disease, low quality of life, general health, cognitive function and mortality. I'm honored that Dr. Salinas worked so hard to get me to see this on a personal level. He's a big part of why I am passionate about this work and want to expand the program until everyone who needs it can get Home Delivery.

To support Beyond Hunger and its Home Delivery Program, visit GoBeyondHunger.org or send checks payable to Beyond Hunger, 848 Lake Street, Oak Park, IL 60301

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