Bay Area non-profit struggling to recover from fire, sees spike in number of seniors in need

A Bay Area non-profit that is used to helping those in need, now finds itself in need of community support. 

On Tuesday, the Meals on Wheels Diablo Region staff and volunteers delivered warm wishes and bags of food to seniors in Contra Costa County to make sure they get nutritious meals for this holiday week. 

At one stop, a Walnut Creek resident named Rosalie said she's been receiving meals for three years, ever since her doctor first called the program. 

"She said I was losing too much weight, and she felt I wasn't eating well," said Rosalie. 

It was a simple need, fulfilled. The non-profit has been delivering food to seniors for 50 years, but now it finds itself needing help.

"We had a random electrical fire, It was a Saturday night, thank goodness nobody was there," said Caitlin Sly, the Executive Director of Meals on Wheels Diablo Region, adding that staff has been without an office since the September 24 fire destroyed the office. "There was so much damage to the building, smoke and water that we're not going to be able to be in that building for at least a year," said Sly.

She says staff and volunteers have been struggling for several months to keep services rolling by working from home, in cafés and even from their cars. 
Just last week, kindness came from a company BPM, that donated unused cubicle space in downtown Walnut Creek. 

"They had this pretty much sitting empty," said Sly, "All the cubicles, all the chairs, all the cabinets. The computer screens, everything." 

Sly says they're grateful for the temporary home to get them through the holidays when the need has increased. 

"From before the pandemic to now, the number of meals we are delivering has gone up by 50%. So last year we delivered over 600,000 meals which is more than we've ever delivered before," said Sly.

That increased demand for services, however, means the non-profit is facing a new challenge, of fundraising for services and rebuilding the office space they lost.

"We're lucky we have insurance, but insurance doesn't cover everything as anyone who's had a disaster knows," said Sly.

The Meals on Wheels Diablo Region says they will greatly appreciate any donations or volunteers to help deliver meals this year. 

They also have started a fire fund on their website to help with rebuilding the office.

Jana Katsuyama is a reporter for KTVU.  Email Jana at and follow her on Twitter @JanaKTVU or Facebook @NewsJana or