The West Philadelphia Senior Community Center may seem like a blur of activity to the untrained eye, but this is “the” place to be if you’re an active senior. Each day is packed with workshops, educational classes, fitness instruction, and games. But on a Wednesday in April, a dozen people ditched their typical leisure activities and assembled in the music room, like soldiers preparing for a mission.
“I gave up Pinochle for this,” Jacqueline Hatcher joked as she eyed the rows of apple juice and boxes of crackers stacked on a table that spanned the length of the room.
For the second time this year, the group of men and women, mostly members of the Center, volunteered their time to create “breakfast bags” for less-fortunate seniors in the community. The breakfast bags were made possible thanks to a $53,000 grant from the W.W. Smith Charitable Trust. The funds were also used to provide emergency food and shelter assistance vouchers to low-income seniors.
“This helps stretch those dollars at the end of the month,” explained Pat Stanley, Director of the West Philadelphia Senior Community Center. “The breakfast bags actually provide a nutritious breakfast for four to six days.”
Alice Stewart and other volunteers surrounded the table of non-perishable food, armed with a specific task and 150 paper shopping bags to fill.
“I just enjoy helping people where I am needed,” said Alice, who has been coming to the Center for five years.
They worked furiously for an hour, filling the bags with juice, crackers, jars of fruit, packets of oatmeal, energy bars, tea, coffee, applesauce and raisins.“I realize that I am lucky, because during my working lifetime I was able to plan for retirement, so I don’t have to worry about food. I’m blessed,” said Jacqueline, Vice President of the Center’s Advisory Council.
The breakfast bags, she said, will help a significant number of older people living in the surrounding neighborhoods, especially those who tend to isolate themselves.
“They’ll take it if you offer, but they won’t ask,” Jacqueline said. “I was raised that you give. I can’t afford to give money, but I can give one or two hours,” she added.
This spirit of benevolence permeates the West Philadelphia Senior Community Center. In addition to her position on the Advisory Board, Jacqueline volunteers as a computer instructor at the Center five to six hours a week. Alice teaches Canvas Art here two hours a week. She also helps out with the quilting class and volunteers in the lunch room three to four hours a week. Her quilting group has donated eight quilts to seniors in need at area nursing homes. Seniors taking crocheting classes donate some of the blankets they make to infants served by the Nurse-Family partnership. Other members sell the pottery, jewelry and other crafts they make in class at the annual bazaar to raise money for the Center.
“My motto is ‘reach one, teach one,” said Louise Fisher, President of the Center’s Advisory Board. Louise is also heavily involved with Philabundance and other community programs, but her heart remains with her thoughtful and generous friends at the Center.
“You have a place to come to that you can call home,” Louise said with a smile. “I think it’s a pleasant feeling of togetherness.”
WPSCC Members Make Breakfast Bags, Give Back to Community
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