Aspinwall woman serves up compassion for people in need

Tawnya Panizzi
| Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012, 8:58 p.m.

Aggie Lotz-Paff is no professional chef but she loves whipping up meals for a hungry lot — her most recent effort fed 200.

From the kitchen at Shepherd's Heart Church in Pittsburgh, Paff prepared a hardy feast of chicken chili, cornbread and spinach salad for the crowd who gathered, many of whom she said likely hadn't eaten all day.

The meal served some of the region's homeless who gather each Sunday to feed their bodies and souls.

“Some want to talk, others are just hungry,” said Paff, of Aspinwall. “We make sure we have enough so they can have two or three servings.”

A member of Shady-side's Church of the Ascension, Paff and other parishioners volunteer four times a year to feed the homeless.

About 45 churches in the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh share the responsibility of covering the weekly meals.

Shepherd's Heart also runs a homeless veteran's shelter in the city. There are 15 beds, a kitchen, living room and showers for veterans with no other place to go.

This was Paff's first foray into cooking for a wedding-sized crowd, although she's led kitchen functions for other church events.

She wasn't deterred by the hectic preparation; she was instead drawn by the possibility of reaching so many in need.

“It was fulfilling that we were able to touch so many at once,” said Paff, who recruited her son, Dan Block, a senior at Fox Chapel Area High School, to help serve the food.

“That's what Christ calls us to do.”

Block, 18, said there was a lot of work in just transporting all the ingredients to Shepherd's Heart. There were carloads of food to transfer and unpack, he said.

Paff said she wanted the menu to be warm, filling, “and something other than pasta.”

“I had no idea how to cook for large numbers but the chili was something I thought I could manage,” she said.

Her pride swelled as she watched one man in particular eat four helpings of her spinach salad, Paff said.

“It was kind of eye-opening,” Block said. “We think of America as a country where we have all this prosperity.

“Some people seemed uncomfortable to be there. Some seemed grateful, but they all were hungry.”

Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-782-2121, ext. 2 or at

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