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Aspinwall Meals on Wheels serving community since 1975

| Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015, 9:01 p.m.
Ann Casile has volunteered for Aspinwall Meals on Wheels for 40 years.
Jan Pakler | for Trib Total Media
Ann Casile has volunteered for Aspinwall Meals on Wheels for 40 years.
Long-time volunteer Irene Kotchey smiles up at delivery volunteer Joe Splane as 14-year volunteer Wanda Eibel packs a delivery.
Jan Pakler | for Trib Total Media
Long-time volunteer Irene Kotchey smiles up at delivery volunteer Joe Splane as 14-year volunteer Wanda Eibel packs a delivery.

The kitchen at St. Edward Church starts to get especially busy at about 10:30 a.m. on weekdays.

Drivers start arriving to pick up their meals to deliver to as many as 60 Aspinwall Meals on Wheels clients in Aspinwall, Blawnox, Fox Chapel, O'Hara and Sharpsburg. Clients have been relying on that service for 40 years. About 75 volunteers are needed each week.

The Aspinwall Meals on Wheels began in 1975, then known as the Route 28 Chapter of Meals on Wheels, at Aspinwall Presbyterian Church. A fire in 1999 forced the group to move to its current location at St. Edward in Blawnox.

Ann Casile of Blawnox began volunteering with the organization in September 1975, a few months after its creation. Since then, she has done almost every job she can with the group.

“My mother and father taught me to give back to the community,” Casile said.

The group started with about 35 clients and has served as many as 70, Casile said. Personal care homes and other care facilities have limited some of the need for the service.

“There are still ones out there who need it,” Casile said.

Dinners include a hot meal, soup and a bag meal, and workers will try to meet any special requests. The cost is $6.50 per day. The group receives no government funding.

Participation is based on whether someone is able to get food on their own, said Lois Folino of Fox Chapel, program coordinator.

“It isn't based on finance,” Folino said. “It's based on someone who can't get out of their house to get food.”

Besides delivering food, volunteers are sometimes the only interaction clients have during the day, Folino said.

“For some of them, we're there only contact,” Folino said.

One of the biggest challenges the group faced in 40 years was the fire that destroyed its supplies at Aspinwall Presbyterian Church. Casile said several locations reached out to offer the organization a home and they had numerous donation offers from clients and others.

Gjerde Dausch of O'Hara is responsible for organizing drivers. The organization has five routes.

Volunteer drivers usually work a few days a month for as short as an hour. If a driver is unable to work, Dausch has to find a replacement for the day. Dausch said she is impressed with the dedication of the volunteers.

“They'll do just about anything,” Dausch said. “It's a great crew to work with and their main concern is getting these meals out.”

Tom McGee is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 1513, or tmcgee@tribweb.com.

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