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Holiday Hope: Citymeals on Wheels Help the Elderly Cope with Loneliness

Aired January 1, 2001 - 4:31 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: While celebrations mark the beginning of the new year, many people are not in the mood to celebrate. They are the ones spending the holiday alone. It is a problem that is especially tough for many older folks.

CNN's Frank Buckley today takes a look at a special program that helps make such holidays a little easier to cope with for many older folks in New York City.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is not just a meal being delivered to Betty Godfrey, this is a serving of kindness.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You put this in water and it will grow.

BUCKLEY: Ms. Godfrey lives alone, much of the time in pain. The pills and the cane for the osteoporosis and the arthritis. But these stairs, leading up to her apartment make it all but impossible to leave it for the daily dignities, like going out for a walk, most of us take for granted.

BETTY GODFREY: I never thought the things would go the way that they have, and that I would have the physical problems that I have.

BUCKLEY: Loneliness among them, especially on holidays, like New Year's Day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I never used to be here alone on the holidays. I would have friends, or I would go away, you know, visiting or something like that. But it's difficult during the holidays.

BUCKLEY: The meal delivered to the 78-year-old Ms. Godfrey from New York's Citymeals on Wheels program; hot meals cooked fresh a few blocks away, a public-private partnership providing the funding. Those providing the service very aware their mission is about more than delivering food to home-bound seniors.

ANDREA KOPEL, CITYMEALS ON WHEELS: We make an extra effort to bring them not just a hot, nutritious meal, but something extra that shows them that they have not been forgotten. BUCKLEY: Ms. Godfrey, who has no children, has lived alone for more than 30 years. She still loves a good laugh, and often the Meals on Wheels delivery person is the only person she will see on a given day, with whom she can share one with.

GODFREY: Sometimes the only person I see is the meal man. So it gives me some contact with the outside world, right.

BUCKLEY: A human connection that ensures Ms. Godfrey will not begin this new year alone.

GODFREY: It is very nice of you to do this.

BUCKLEY: Frank Buckley, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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