Correction: This story has been updated to clarify the western Broome and eastern Broome Meals on Wheels are run separately. Find contact information for both organizations at the end of the story.
Charlie Quagliata of Binghamton delivers a smile, a friendly greeting and a hot meal to clients of Broome County Meals on Wheels.
“Many of the clients often don’t see anybody at all during the day,” he said. “It’s more than just bringing food. It’s bringing human contact.”
Quagliata is one of approximately 300 volunteers who deliver meals to homebound senior citizens through Broome County Meals on Wheels. He’s been volunteering for nearly 16 years, said Rebecca Morales, the Meals on Wheels coordinator.
“We couldn’t do the program without volunteers,” Morales said.
The program serves between 700 and 800 senior citizens annually who live in the eastern part of Broome County, and area that includes Binghamton, Conklin, Kirkwood and Whitney Point. Senior citizens living in the western part of the county, including Vestal, Endicott and the Town of Union, receive meals from Meals on Wheels of Western Broome. The western Broome charity is run separately as a not-for-profit organization.
“Charlie has been a volunteer with us for a long time,” Morales said. “He always builds a bond with the client. He has genuine concern for the clients he serves.”
Quagliata is a conscientious volunteer who is popular with the senior citizens he works with, Morales said. She has filled in for Quagliata on the rare occasions he misses a delivery shift. No matter where she goes on the route, she hears one question from Quagliata’s clients.
“Where’s Charlie today?” the clients ask.
While the clients enjoy seeing Quagliata, he in turn enjoys seeing them. He likes to chat with the senior citizens he sees and tries to brighten their day with a smile, a friendly greeting or a joke.
“For that brief period of time, we provide them with human contact,” he said of the clients he serves. “You tend to get to know them over the years.”
Twice a week, he delivers meals to 14 clients who live in downtown Binghamton and in and around the city’s First Ward, he said. Sometimes he picks up an additional route if another driver is unable to drive that day.
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He can deliver all his meals in approximately one hour and enjoys every minute of it, he said.
“It doesn’t take up a great deal of time but it’s all quality time,” he said. “It makes us feel good. We feel needed. We’re happy to fill that need.”
Quagliata often shows up early to his shifts so he can chat with other volunteers. There’s a lot of laughter, and a sense of camaraderie among the volunteers as they load up their cars with hot meals, he said.
“You’re not only volunteering but you become friends with other volunteers,” he said.
Quagliata encouraged other people, especially senior citizens with time on their hands, to try volunteering with Meals on Wheels.
“One of the most meaningful things they can do is to come and help deliver food to people,” he said. “They will get some great satisfaction out of it. They will meet some new friends. Come and join the party.”
More about Charlie Quagliata
Home and hometown: Binghamton
Career: Retired 18 years ago from the former Broome Community College, now known as SUNY Broome. He started as an English teacher and worked his way up to the vice president for student and community affairs.
How to Help: Broome County Meals on Wheels is always looking for more volunteers. To volunteer, call 607-778-6206. Meals on Wheels of Western Broome can be contacted at 607-754-7856.