Take and Eat comes to area
March 22, 2010
|(left to right) Westfield residents Cathleen Bastible, Dawn-Marie Deraleau and Ann Harter will be the volunteer shoppers for the newly launched Take and Eat Inc., at St. Mary s Church in Westfield. |
Reminder Publications photo by Lori Szepelak
By Lori Szepelak
WESTFIELD -- People feeding people is the simple premise behind Take and Eat Inc., which launched a new program at St. Mary's Church on March 11.
It was standing room only as volunteers of all ages packed a conference room at St. Mary's High School to learn about the ministry which is led by founders Deacon Francis J. Ryan, Ed.D., and his wife Kathleen.
The couple eagerly greeted the more than 50 individuals who came out to show their support for a new ministry supported by the church. Ryan noted during his presentation that he hopes to recruit other faith-based organizations in the Greater Westfield area as spring unfolds.
Take and Eat's mission is to supplement the government-funded weekday Meals on Wheels program with one meal being served once a month on a Saturday or Sunday. From their first meals prepared and delivered to 80 homebound seniors on Easter Sunday 2003 in North Adams, the ministry has grown to more than 1,700 volunteers in Berkshire, Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin counties, serving close to 2,000 clients.
As the volunteer recruitment meeting progressed, individuals were broken into groups that interested them, ranging from shoppers, kitchen preparers and cooks to bakers, packagers, drivers and coordinators. By the end of the evening, a leader was also chosen for each group. Dick Cahill graciously agreed to oversee the entire operation.
Cathleen Bastible and Dawn-Marie Deraleau, both of Westfield, were among the enthusiastic volunteers who couldn't wait to get started.
"I believe in giving back to the community since it makes Westfield a better place to live," said Bastible.
Deraleau echoed those sentiments.
"The community has been good to my family in our time of need so now we can give back," said Deraleau, adding, "Seniors deserve to have something to look forward to."
|To qualify to receive the free monthly meal, a person must be 60 or older and have a chronic disability such that the person is unable to shop or prepare meals to meet daily nutritional needs, according to Ryan. He noted that St. Mary's volunteers will work collaboratively with Highland Valley Elder Services to ensure that seniors who are in need will receive the meal.|
"The majority of recipients are women," said Ryan. "Many recipients live at or are below the poverty line. We serve all ethnicities."
Take and Eat's participating congregations across the Pioneer Valley include Roman Catholic, Episcopalian, Methodist, Lutheran, Baptist and Congregationalists.
"We look forward to working with other congregations as we continue to expand our program," said Ryan.
Ryan explained that Take and Eat trains volunteers to create a stable, sustainable meals program in their community.
"We provide training, education and a proven set of policies and procedures that enable our partner organizations to prepare and deliver nutritious and satisfying meals," he said.
To drive home a point about cost-effectiveness, Ryan stressed that it costs a social service agency approximately $7 to produce one meal. Volunteers trained by Take and Eat produce meals for less than $2 per meal.
In the next two weeks, St. Mary's volunteers will visit several area churches including St. Theresa's Church and the Congregational Church, both in South Hadley, and Blessed Sacrament Church in Holyoke, to see how Take and Eat has been successfully implemented.
St. Mary's volunteers expect to launch their own Take and Eat ministry in early to mid-April.
Take and Eat Inc. is a member services agency of the Annual Catholic Appeal of the Diocese of Springfield, and is also funded in part by the Charles H. Hall Foundation, Church World Services and the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts.
Persons wishing to support the Take and Eat mission may send tax-free gifts to Take and Eat Inc., 69 Stryker Road, Florida, MA 01247.
For more information on the program, contact Kathleen Ryan, program director, at 664-1041, or visit www.takeandeat.org.