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‘“She would make everybody feel special,’ her brother said.”

I wish I had a chance to meet Jody Tepedino Nichilo. Instead, the passage above came from one of the many vignettes published in the New York Times on those who lost their lives on September 11, 2011.

I took it upon myself to read these vignettes every day to pay my respects to those courageous souls who were taken from us on a day that is forever etched in our consciousness.  The profiles published in the New York Times didn’t just include what individuals did for a living, but it talked about who they were.

That’s why Jody’s profile really struck me.  In just a few, limited paragraphs designated to describe the rich lives of so many people, Jody’s tribute mentioned how much being a Meals On Wheels volunteer had meant to her.  

This moved and humbled me in a way that I cannot describe.

As the person charged with leading Meals On Wheels Association of America (MOWAA) and taking steps towards ending senior hunger every day, I know how important our local Meals On Wheels programs across the nation are, and how we could not exist without our large network of volunteers. 

But Jody made me think about what Meals On Wheels means to our tireless volunteers, and how it defines many of them.  It defined Jody.  So much so that her daughter and mother have continued her delivery route in Brooklyn.  That is truly humbling and cause for reflection.

In honor of Jody’s beautiful life and spirit, the first place winner of our 2011 American Volunteer of the Year Contest was given the Jody Tepedino Nicholo Award. 

As we observe September 11th after ten years, I have an additional suggestion.

In honor of Jody and the thousands of other fearless individuals that lost their lives, in honor of who they were and what defined them, I hope you will be inspired to honor their memory by giving back this year in some way, to what you believe in – what defines you. 

It doesn’t have to be Meals On Wheels (though we always welcome the support!). Whatever cause you are passionate about, consider volunteering, donating, talking about it with your friends and family.

The world forever changed on 9/11.  With the power of reflection and the good will of more and more people, people like you, we can change this new world for the better. 


Enid A. Borden

President & CEO

Meals On Wheels Association of America

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