Pari Amirshahi

February 15, 2017

How a Microwave, a Meal, and a Mattress Changed One Client’s Life

Pari-AmirshahiWhen Iona social worker Liza Chapkosvky first met Parivash “Pari” Amirshahi, Pari was isolated in her apartment, surviving on little food and company. She had no bed, and she was sleeping on her small couch. “I could never straighten my legs,” says Pari, 79. Two years later, her life looks completely different, thanks to Iona.

Pari was first connected to Iona in October 2014, after her building manager — concerned about Pari’s living environment — made a call to our Information & Referral Helpline. “Her building manager had been helping out for a while — things like driving Pari to appointments, or helping to pay bills,” says Liza. “But, it was clear the manager had reached a point where she was in over her head and needed support.” Liza set up a home visit, which revealed Pari had almost no food.

Iona’s response was immediate. First, Liza worked with our Home Delivered Meals Coordinator Jakia Muhammad so that Pari would regularly receive meals at her home. She also secured a microwave and hot plate for Pari to be able to reheat meals.

Then, she introduced Pari to Iona’s Active Wellness Program at St. Alban’s, which provides a delicious free lunch and fun conversation in the company of friends every weekday. Since then, Pari has been participating nearly every day. “I had no idea St. Alban’s existed or that you could get free food,” says Pari. “I was hungry all the time. And then Liza brought me here. Now I have hot food and coffee and tea.”

In addition to a nutritious hot lunch every weekday, Iona’s Active Wellness Program has also broadened Pari’s once-shrinking community. “At St. Alban’s I have met many nice people,” says Pari. “I found out that there are many elderly people besides me in this world.”

Pari could not have imagined anyone providing the support she has received from Iona. Now, she feels differently.

Iona is the best place for elderly people because we know we have a home here, and that somebody is taking care of us. I am glad that I could find Iona and that you wanted to help.”

Today, Pari is safe, well-fed, and content with the many new friendships in her life. She’s received cataract surgery and visited a specialist to help with her breathing. She enrolled in MetroAccess, and soon will have a home health aide to help with errands around her home, food preparation, and transportation to medical appointments.

To Pari, her connection with Liza, and Iona’s larger community, has been a true gift — and one, in her eyes, that was destined to be. “Liza is from Russia, and I am from Iran. All this time, only the Caspian Sea was between us,” she jokes.

And as for her couch? A few months ago, Liza was able to provide a donated queen-sized mattress. “It’s a good mattress,” Pari says, grinning. “I can stretch my legs and I’m sleeping better. I really enjoy it.”