Meals on Wheels Chicago Driver Retires After 40 Years Serving Chicago’s Seniors
After 40 years of bringing meals to seniors, Meals on Wheels Chicago driver Artha Jackson is retiring, delivering his last meal on Christmas Eve. Artha began his career with the home meal delivery program in September 1981 working double shifts both behind the wheel and in the kitchen. In 1995 he transitioned to just delivering meals, and along the way has interacted with thousands of Chicago’s homebound seniors.
“Over the years you grow close to a lot of them, but I remember one lady in particular who didn’t have kids, only a first cousin that would stop by sometimes. She told me she never had a real soul food dinner, so one Thanksgiving me and my wife brought her dinner, and she was undone by a sweet potato pie! My wife and I became really fond of her.”
Treating seniors with respect was ingrained in Artha from a young age. “I grew up with the idea that you respect your elders, so I always wanted to listen to what the clients had to say even though you don’t have a lot of time. Most don’t have visitors and you’re the only face that they see, so they really appreciate it.”
Delivering for Meals on Wheels Chicago often means working on holidays, but Artha says he got used to it. “It was kind of hard at first, but then you get used to working on the holidays because so many people really need [the program].”
Supporting seniors in the community has become a family business with some of Artha’s children working for the program during summer breaks. His son Artha Jr. is now a full-time employee and will take over his father’s Southwest side route, serving some of Chicago’s most underserved neighborhoods.
“Artha has been an invaluable member of our team for over 40 years. He’s touched the lives of thousands of seniors in our community, delivering meals, kindness, and respect to the homebound. Artha always went out of his way to show compassion to our clients, and we are grateful for his decades of service. We wish him a happy retirement!” – Anthony Fiore of Open Kitchens, Meals on Wheels Chicago meal provider.
“This kind of dedicated service is what makes the Meals on Wheels Chicago program so special. We are grateful to Artha and Open Kitchens for the daily attention and dedication to our clients that helps our elderly neighbors stay independent in their own homes. After the past few years when the program has seen an unprecedented surge in demand, their efforts meant that no senior in need was ever put on a waitlist.” – Elise Geiger, Meals on Wheels Chicago Executive Director
“We are so fortunate to have people like Artha in this world – doing anything for 40 years is a tremendous accomplishment but bringing meals to seniors and supporting Meals on Wheels Chicago for so long is truly remarkable. It is hard to quantify the impact of Artha’s efforts as it goes far beyond the meals dropped off and miles driven, but extends to the thousands of smiles delivered and friendships made. Thank you Artha for your generosity of spirit and commitment to Meals on Wheels Chicago!” – Shannon Murphy, Meals on Wheels Chicago Board President
Artha is looking forward to retirement which will allow him to spend more time at home with his grandchildren. “I’ve got enough chores to last me through the winter and then we’ll see what I can find to do!”