Aging Unbound: Linda Vieira
March 26, 2024

A broken elevator and nine flights of stairs in the summer would be a deterrent to some people. Not to Linda Vieira, who week after week made sure her Meals on Wheels recipients still received their daily lunch, a wellness check, and a smile.

“Some of them told me to just not deliver their meals,” said Vieira, 74, of Tyngsboro. “I told them ‘No, you need your lunch.’”

That’s the kind of dedication and perseverance Vieira has shown for 18 years as an AgeSpan volunteer driver in Lowell. On a typical day, she delivers about 40 meals, mostly to large apartment complexes, and if the elevator is out, well, that’s just part of the job.

“Linda amazes me each and every day, with her energy and work ethic,” said Derek Anderson, AgeSpan’s Director of Nutrition Services. “She has so much compassion for her consumers and goes above and beyond for everyone and truly is one of the nicest people you will ever meet.”

Every year, the Administration for Community Living leads the national celebration of older Americans, and its theme of Aging Unbound continues to offer an opportunity to explore a wide range of aging experiences and celebrate the joy of independence and fulfillment as we age.

Vieira finds her work fulfilling while filling a need in the community. The Lowell Senior Center is a busy place in the morning, and when the Meals on Wheels food is delivered, Vieira springs into action, organizing the meals, and getting drivers on the road. When she’s done her route, she moves on to her second job as a caretaker for her husband, Ron, and then, as a treat to herself, she goes on a three-mile walk.

It seemed like the perfect part-time job for Vieira, who had owned a shuttle and delivery service with her husband for 26 years before retiring.

“I was looking for a little part-time job, and in the paper, it said they were looking for delivery drivers,” Vieira said. “I came down and they said, ‘Can you start today?’”

She started delivering a week after applying for the job and has been at it ever since. Her plan is to do this until she’s 80.

“Who knows, it might even be longer,” Vieira said. “I’m a person who doesn’t like to sit. I’ve got a lot to do.”

Vieira uses her local knowledge to her advantage. She often maps out routes for new drivers and points out each shortcut in the city.

“I don’t care how good (GPS) says it is,” said Vieira. “I know shorter ways.”

She’s in perpetual motion from the instant the truck arrives with the food until the final meal reaches its destination. Riding up elevators and descending stairs, she maneuvers from car to building, navigating the complex roads of Lowell with precision.

“I love working with these people every day,” Vieira said. “I like to make sure they’re safe and get a nutritious meal. It’s just nice to see them.”

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