This Christmas one local elected official spread some holiday cheer to his district’s senior citizens.
On Christmas Eve, Councilman James Vacca accompanied the organization God’s Love We Deliver to bring meals to two Pelham Bay residents.
God’s Love We Deliver’s mission is to improve the health and well-being those living with serious illnesses by alleviating hunger and malnutrition, and has been bringing meals twice a week to local resident Lawrence Bannister for about three years.
Bannister was diagnosed with Sarcoidosis—which effects the lungs—in 2002, and in 2011 his left lung collapsed twice.
A friend pointed him to God’s Love We Deliver when Bannister was on oxygen while waiting for a lung transplant. He could not be near an open flame at the time and was unable to cook for himself before the transplant, and he could not care for himself for months after the surgery in 2012.
“They’ve really been a lifeline,” he said about the organization. “The meals are indispensable for me.”
And although Bannister has recovered well from the transplant and is now mobile, he still has to be very cautious with his health. On rainy days, like this past Christmas Eve, he can’t risk going outside because his immune system is compromised.
The meals reduce his need to grocery shop, and he’s very glad to have access to food that is nutritious and hearty.
“They help sustain me,” said Bannister.
This December 23 marked the two-year anniversary of his lung transplant, and Bannister said he’s in a good place and is grateful for the support he’s received from friends and organizations like God’s Love We Deliver.
Now that his health has stabilized, the 65-year-old retired educator said he’s trying to figure out what to do with the rest of his life.
“I really feel blessed,” said Bannister. “I’m thankful every day I have breath.”
The councilman said his visit with Bannister and the other recipient was very uplifting.
“They’re in such good spirits under difficult circumstances,” said Vacca.
Vacca said he found making the Christmas Eve delivery—which included a special package of non-perishable food in case of an emergency—to be extremely rewarding, and that he enjoyed getting the chance to talk and laugh with the residents.
“We wanted to bring a little company and a little food,” said Vacca. “I think both were the perfect touch for Christmas.”