Once a month Liberty’s Paul’s Run senior living community has 12 eager cooks in the house. All of these cooks are residents, who volunteer their time to prepare meals for vulnerable populations.
Their recipe for success includes a big batch of resourcefulness, a large measure of love, a long list of healthy ingredients—and the foresight of Julie Stumpf, Director of Resident Services at Paul’s Run.
A light bulb went off for Julie when she encountered some residents who thought their age might limit their capacity to help others. As someone who is ardent about service and a member of the Social Ministry at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Lafayette Hill, PA, Julie cooked up a marvelous idea!
A Winning Collaboration
Why not, she thought, organize a group of residents at Paul’s Run to help St. Peter’s Social Ministry with its efforts to combat food insecurity—efforts that include a community meal at St. Michael’s Lutheran Church in Philadelphia, which could be expanded with the help of Paul’s Run to also include Jane Addams Place, a shelter for homeless women and children.
Julie saw this as an excellent opportunity to connect social ministry, willing seniors, and vulnerable populations to give and receive of their gifts. Erin Samsel, Director of Community Life at Paul’s Run and Ellen Daneke, who spearheads the Social Ministry at St. Peter’s, readily embraced the idea.
The collaboration launched in February and has been successful on many levels.“Cooking with the Paul’s Run’s community service team has been not only a pleasure but a privilege. No matter what the project is for the day, these volunteers pour out their love and hard work to brighten up someone else’s day,” says Ellen.
The group of Paul’s Run volunteer cooks agrees they get back as much as they give. “We laugh, we kid, it makes all of us closer,” says Carole Fanelli, one of the cooks. “It’s a good thing for us. It keeps us moving,” adds Liz Ciaccia, who also shares her culinary talents.
A Bevy of Busy Cooks
Keep them moving it does! In April the volunteers cooked for 75 homeless women and children. Using ingredients donated by Whole Foods, Summit Foods, and Weis Markets, the volunteers prepared a dozen half-trays of delicious baked ziti, plus multiple trays of tossed salad, fresh bread, and cookies.
Ultimately, preparing homemade meals for those who need it most is greatly fulfilling for our cooks. “It was such a good feeling to cook for the women and children. The children were so grateful…they couldn’t thank us enough. And we loved that we had a chance to not just serve the food, but eat with the women and children as well. It was a joy to serve them,” says Liz.
For more information about Paul’s Run, visit paulsrun.org.