NORTH OLMSTED, Ohio — Senior citizens have been urged to stay inside their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, but like clockwork, hot meals are being delivered to the front doors of dozens of Northeast Ohioans.
“It’s very good and tasty,” Dennis O’Connell said. “They do an excellent job.”
O’Connell is a United States Air Force veteran who relies on daily meal deliveries.
“Very helpful,” O’Connell said. “Especially being alone, you know.”
Officer Jim Carbone of the North Olmsted Police Department partnered with Meals on Wheels to deliver lunch and dinner five days a week to at-risk populations during the global health crisis.
“You’re meeting people who are strangers and now you’ve developed some great friendships,” Carbone said.
Ironically though, it’s not food these folks look forward to most.
“He’d come and say hi to all the old ladies,” Dorothy Gaughan said. “They all look forward to seeing Jimmy.”
Instead, they wait each day for the promise of companionship and friendly conversation.
“It means a lot because you don’t get out anymore,” George Williamson said. “You can’t even go to church.”
Monday through Friday, Williamson is on standby near the door knowing Carbone will be there soon to greet him with a smile.
“You don’t have the friendship that you had before,” Williamson said. “Everybody is staying in the house.”
Mary Fain was surprised when she opened the door to a uniformed officer.
“I thought, ‘Well, I know I’m not in trouble. It’s a police man but I know I’m not in trouble,’” Fain said.
She now considers Carbone family and cherishes each minute spent with him.
“I’ve got a good friend here,” Fain said. “He’s been so nice to me.”
Carbone often sings classics to her, putting his Italian accent to good use.
“He wants me to dance with him, but I can’t do that,” Fain said.
The meals and music continue just up the road at Nancy Storch’s house.
“This is my guy,” Storch said.
She prefers a collaboration between Ed Sheeran and Andrea Bocelli.
“Absolutely,” Storch said. “I have to have my serenade!”
Last but not least on Carbone’s daily route, he visits a former mentor.
“Well we worked together for the Sheriff!” Frank Gaughan said.
Gaughan is a former law enforcement officer.
He’s 99 years old and said visits from familiar faces are few and far between.
“I had a lot of different partners,” Gaughan said. “You know where they’re at? Holy Cross. I ain’t got nobody I know no more.”
The daily deliveries from Carbone are feeding the appetite, but most importantly, the heart and soul.
“You’ll see me tomorrow. I’m not gonna let you go hungry now,” Carbone promised as he was leaving Storch’s home.