Share This Page

Meals on Wheels program serving Carnegie, Bridgeville, Scott seeking volunteers of all ages

| Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, 9:31 p.m.
Signal Item
Irene Brosek, 90, of Scott Township, left, and Florence LaSota, 84, of Heidelberg, both volunteers with Meals on Wheels for 24 years, fill up trays for customers while volunteering at St. John Lutheran Church in Carnegie Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012. Randy Jarosz | For The Signal Item
Signal Item
Meals on Wheel cook Mari Murphy of East Carnegie zippers a container full of meals while Don Paul, 75, of Scott Township, a volunteer with Meals on Wheels for 10 years, stacks up the finished dishes for delivery. Randy Jarosz | For The Signal Item
Signal Item
Don Paul, 75, of Scott Township, a volunteer with Meals on Wheels for 10 years, seals the meal trays with plastic at St. John Lutheran Church. Randy Jarosz | For The Signal Item

Daytime TV wasn't cutting it for Mari Murphy.

Owner of a risk-management business, a flexible schedule and a self-described poor “self-starter,” the East Carnegie resident was getting antsy in the mornings.

“I found myself watching 44 episodes of Golden Girls,” Murphy cracked in the basement of Carnegie's St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church, about 20 minutes after helping cook more than 150 Meals on Wheels entrées.

“I decided to get up and get out. That's what got me to volunteer.”

That was close to six years ago. Since then, she has found fulfillment — as well as a creative outlet for an avid cooking habit — in preparing meals for area seniors. Now, the Lutheran Service Society, which organizes 38 Meals on Wheels kitchens in the region, is seeking more willing volunteers like Murphy.

Be it kitchen help, drivers or hoppers — those are the people making deliveries — volunteers for all positions are being sought for the site that serves Carnegie, Scott and Bridgeville.

“Wednesday is our worst day,” said site manager Bob Colabianchi, adding the kitchen also needs to add at least 10 volunteers.

“We're low on kitchen staff and drivers, so if I can't call somebody in or they can't take up an extra day, then I have to cover.”

Of course, volunteers are welcome any day of the week and seldom are turned away, as long as they pass a background check.

The need is even greater in the approaching winter, when fewer senior citizens are willing to venture into poor weather.

“The numbers jump up,” said Candy Mageras, Meals on Wheels' program manager. “The highest I've seen this site serve in the winter is 63 seniors just in Carnegie.”

There is more to the job than the rinse-and-repeat process of dropping off the prepared lunch and a frozen meal for later. Hoppers are encouraged to form connections with the clients during their brief stops, to offer a friendly face, as well as a checkup on those who may be living alone.

“Most of these seniors,” Mageras said, “we are the only face they see every day.”

Most volunteers sacrifice modest amounts of time. Kitchen workers come in for roughly two hours each morning, while the drivers and hoppers are needed from around 10 a.m. to noon.

“We're hoping to attract other volunteers, like young people who have flexible schedules,” said Laura Burns, director of Lutheran Service Society's volunteer service.

“Stay-at-home moms, we'd like to target them. They can bring their children, and it's not a big time commitment. If you're volunteering one day a week for two hours, that's about as good as it gets.”

And the benefits go to more than the seniors receiving Murphy's meals.

“One meal changes two lives,” Burns said. “The great thing about this volunteering program is it's very community-based, so you're helping people where you live. It gives you a sense of pride.”

Dan Stefano is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at dstefano@tribweb.com or 412-388-5816.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.