It’s About Dignity


As an Alameda Meals on Wheels on-call volunteer, I never know where I’ll be delivering until the phone rings. 

My favorite route is the one that takes me to our veterans on the former Alameda Naval Air Station. Among the recipients are those who have served our country and who have come to live in Dignity Commons, housing provided by Operation Dignity for our veterans who need some assistance. 

Jim is a Navy veteran and recipient. Because of his disability, he is unable to shop or cook for himself and thus qualified for the program. I was privileged to speak with him the other day, and he told me a bit about his life experiences. 

He joined the Navy right out of high school in Martinez, and it was his first time away from home. After boot camp he was assigned to the USNS Kilauea, T-AE-26, an ammunition ship. He was part of Group 191, the Golden Gate Group, in 1979.

After his service he worked several jobs in the Bay Area, mostly as a cashier at several different stores. In spite of his disability, he attempted to get along on his own, but things turned south in 2015. His car was broken into and a lot of damage was done to it. Facing homelessness, Jim turned to the Veterans Administration (VA) seeking information. He got a lot more than that. 

The VA introduced him to Operation Dignity. He was able to find a home at Dignity Commons and discovered that he qualified for Meals on Wheels. 

He said he wants all veterans to know that there is help out there for housing, behavioral issues and the like. The centers provide showers and clothing as needed and veterans need only to contact the local VA and they’ll point out the right direction. 

Most importantly, Jim wanted everyone to know that without Meals on Wheels, he would be hungry. 

His sense of humor is amazing and his way with words a joy to hear. He is writing a book and gave me a bit of the outline. Suffice it to say, I’m buying a copy as soon as it hits the shelves. 

All my recipients are special, but veterans are extra special and Jim makes my day!


Arthur Ramirez Lendhardt is an Alameda Meals on Wheels volunteer.