Volunteers from Our Lady of the Valley Parish in Easthampton hit the road for meal delivery
Published: Wednesday, April 11, 2012, 9:45 PM
EASTHAMPTON - Twice a month, two bands of 45 or so, shop, cook, clean and deliver meals to dozens of homebound seniors here and in neighboring Westhampton and Southampton and they'd like to see the program grow.
They are looking for new groups to take on the mission sparked nine years ago by Deacon Frank Ryan and his wife Kathleen Ryan from Florida - the town in Franklin County. They came up with the idea for churches to get involved in providing weekend meals to augment what's offered during the week with Meals-on-Wheels. Since then, they've been getting more churches involved.
What is now the Our Lady of the Valley Church got involved about 2 ½ years ago with two groups - one on the first weekend of the month and the other on the third weekend, said Peg Wallace, a co-supervisor of one group. She'd love to see enough volunteers so two more groups can take over the remaining two weekends.
On the two weekends, the crews prepare two meals - a dinner meal for Saturday such as shepherd's pie or golumpkis, and a second meal for Sunday featuring some kind of soup, sandwich, fruit and chips and delivering both at the same time.
"We have no financial (requirements,)" Wallace said. "We take anybody who's requested a meal." She said they also serve meals to those who don't get the Meals-on-Wheels lunch program during the week.
The weekend delivery also ensures that the seniors have someone look in on them.
"There is such a wonderful feeling of knowing you're helping someone else," said Kathleen Benoit, Wallace's co-supervisor.
"There's such a need," Wallace said. And people getting a meal shouldn't think of it as welfare. "There's no stigma," she said.
"I love cooking. I really like doing things for people when they don't expect it...and they're surprised when they get it," she said.
A shopping crew purchases the food in the middle of the week and then a cooking crew arrives at the church around 7 a.m. There are those who come to clean up and others to deliver.
Plus there are volunteer bakers who bake at home and drop off the desserts at the church kitchen.
Besides taking care of those in need, the program has benefited those in the church. A about a year and a half ago, Notre Dame de Bon Conseil and Sacred Heart merged to form Our Lady of the Valley.
"It's a good way to bring the parishes together. We're all about serving others," Benoit said.
Even if people don't have time to volunteer, they can donate. Wallace said it costs about $500 a month for the meals. They serve about 65 a weekend. People can donate in honor or memory of a loved one or just make an outright gift.
Anyone interested in volunteering or receiving a meal should contact the church office at (414) 527-9778.
People can send checks made payable to Take and Eat, 33 Adams St., Easthampton, MA 01027
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