Feeling in Control of her Life: Blind Elder has Groceries Brought to Her

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At age 78, and nearly blind, Mrs. Mary Lee Kraft is a resourceful, fiercely independent woman with a love for jazz. A widow since 1984, Mrs. Kraft has spent many hours making life better for County residents by volunteering with local service organizations since her retirement from Montgomery College. In fact, it was while volunteering with the County’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program in 1994 that she first saw the literature of a not-for-profit home-delivered grocery service that was available right in Washington and the Maryland suburbs.

At that time, Mrs. Kraft had no reason to anticipate a diagnosis of macular degeneration and the growing difficulties it would pose for accomplishing many everyday tasks. When Mrs. Kraft lost her sight in January 2009, she remembered the program she had discovered fifteen years earlier and ordered a copy of the Storehouse Guide from that organization, Top Banana Home Delivered Groceries. While her daughter, who lives in Frederick, takes her grocery shopping every few weeks, Mrs. Kraft also uses the not-for-profit service regularly to get groceries and household products, between her daughter’s visits.

When she first telephoned the organization to place an order, she let the staff know that she was blind and would not be working from a written list. “The people who take my orders could not be nicer and caught on to my needs immediately,” she said. From that first call, she says they worked hand in hand with her, looking up items, giving her available brands, sizes and prices, and offering choices that are satisfying alternatives when needed. A new ice cream brand is now her new favorite flavor: “strawberry-strawberry.”

As with all customers, Top Banana’s drivers pleasantly offer Mrs. Kraft as much help with the groceries as she wants. She lets them bring the bags into the kitchen, but likes to shelve the items herself. Mrs. Kraft gets what she says is a “great reception from every person who works for the organization. I could not be more pleased.”

Now she tells her friends, even those who still drive: “If you’re ever sick or laid up, call Top Banana.” A very positive person by nature, Mrs. Kraft feels more confident in her ability to get groceries and continues to feel independent and in control of her life. Moreover, that is just the way she likes it.

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