- Hans Kyzivat
- Frances Sorapure has end-stage emphysema. She is hooked up
to an oxygen tank 24 hours a day.
- Hans Kyzivat had been paralyzed from the neck down with Guillain-Barre
Syndrome and still wears leg braces and uses a walker. In addition,
his fingers and feet are impaired.
- What these two people have in common is that despite their
serious disabilities, they are both active volunteers with Meals-on-Wheels
who drive their cars on delivery routes.
- As with all other drivers for the agency, they are accompanied
by another volunteer who carries the prepared meals into the
homes of the mostly elderly recipients while the car and driver
wait at the curb.
- "It's an inspiration that they can continue to do good
for people in spite of their problems," said Ann Peterson,
the Meals-on-Wheels director in White Plains.
- Sorapure is a semi-retired legal secretary who still works
in her home. (She had been my secretary back in the '60s when
I was editor of the former White Plains Reporter Dispatch.) In
addition to driving one day a week for Meals-on-Wheels, she performs
the same duty for the Lord's Pantry, an organization that delivers
meals to homebound AIDS victims. Both organizations need more
volunteers badly, she said.
- When Sorapure leaves her house, she trundles an oxygen tank
strapped to a luggage carrier.
- "It's a struggle for me to get from the house to the
garage," she said, adding that sitting in the car "is
no big physical deal."
- The oxygen tank is squeezed behind her seat in the car and
alongside the bulky hampers of hot and cold food.
- Sorapure has been temporarily sidelined since last month
when she contracted pneumonia.
- Kyzivat is a retired metals product manager who had come
from Vienna as a Fulbright exchange student. He stayed because
he liked the American way of life. In 1978, following a bout
with influenza, he became progressively paralyzed over a 24-hour
period and spent the next year immobilized, first at St. Agnes
Hospital and then at Burke Rehabilitation Hospital. He was discharged,
he recalled, 'because Burke said, "You're not making any
more progress.' They sent me home in a wheelchair."
- He spent the second and third years of his disability pursuing
physical therapy at home. He gradually improved.
- "After the third year, my doctor said, 'Well, now you
can drive your car.' I replied, 'You must be kidding.' But I've
been driving since 1981. I can do anything, only three times
- Meals-on-Wheels in Rockland County also makes good use of
disabled volunteer workers. A group from the Association for
Retarded Citizens works several days a week delivering meals.
- "They're wonderful," said Jennifer Cesca, the Meals-on-Wheels
volunteer coordinator. "They're the most reliable we've
- Putnam County meals delivery is handled by paid county employees.
- Send questions and comments to Bill Bookman in care of Living
Section, The Journal News, 1 Gannett Drive, White Plains, NY