Carl Wachter has led a busy and very productive life. His career, which began in the mailroom of media and publishing giant Hearst, provided him the opportunity to climb the corporate ladder and come to represent the company all around the country, from his native New York to the cobbled streets of Boston and well beyond.
He chose to end his travel and career abruptly, however, in 1989, when his parents in New Mexico were both diagnosed with cancer.
“I left [Hearst] to be with them and be a caregiver for them,” he explains. “I had a good job and everything—but family counts.”
Now, more than 30 years later, Carl is still living in New Mexico—and he can really use a helping hand like the one he extended to his parents those many years ago.
In 2020, Carl was hospitalized twice: once for a cardiac problem, and once again for pneumonia. And, while his mobility was already limited by the illness-related loss of his driver’s license a few years back, the 2020 coronavirus pandemic made getting around even more difficult—not just for Carl, but for millions more like him. As a result, he’s spent more time alone than ever before.
“It’s just been a life of staying home more,” he says of his time during the last year. “A lot more than I would on a normal basis. I don’t have anybody here besides myself.”
Thirty years ago, Carl put his career on hold to provide care and comfort to his parents in their old age. Today, we’re honored to help him as he works hard to maintain the independence, connection, and vitality he deserves.
“There are people out there who do care.”
When Carl’s case manager from the nearby Presbyterian Hospital noticed he wasn’t getting proper nutrition, she encouraged him to send in an application to Meals on Wheels Albuquerque. Figuring he had nothing to lose, he made the call and began to receive services—and he’s been very, very happy with his experience.
“The meals are excellent,” Carl says. “It’s food that helps me feel better. I feel healthy.”
More than just food, though, Meals on Wheels provides Carl and many other seniors like him with valuable companionship. Carl’s regular interaction with a Meals on Wheels volunteer is a chance for him to check in with someone who cares about his health and wellbeing.
Plus, it’s a great way to hear some fresh neighborhood news! For Carl, having that in-person conversation and exchange is especially important.
“I’m still in the Fred Flintstone era,” he explains, laughing. “I don’t have a cell phone, email, or any of that.”
These regular interactions keep Carl connected to the world outside his home, which is helpful for him and his local community. Like all of our elders, he has stories worth hearing and insights worth remembering. In summing up what he’s learned talking with his Meals on Wheels service providers, for instance, Carl says:
“There are people out there who do care about the needy and homebound.”
Paying It Forward
Carl encourages anyone facing the same challenges he did to reach out to Meals on Wheels today.
“Get in touch,” he says. “Fill out the application, because it is well worth it.”
Carl is so satisfied with his Meals on Wheels experience, in fact, that when we asked him for feedback, he insisted there was only one small thing he would change...
“They bring meals,” he says, “...but they don’t bring dessert! [...] A plain cannoli, and everything is good.”
Carl Wachter stood by his parents when they needed him most. Now, it’s our turn to step up and offer Carl—and ten million seniors like him—the support and respect they’ve undoubtedly earned.
One day, we’ll walk in these same shoes. Right now, it’s our turn to pay it forward, and hope someone will be there for us when we need support ourselves. Together, We Can Deliver.