Saint Euphrosynus the Cook Project
By Cynthia Bredikin and Alice Rubercheck
The project below is another response to serving those in need, taken up by the same Charity Committee that helped to find homes for the homeless (see 1989 Resource Handbook article: Alice Rubercheck, Restart: A Program to Find a Home for the Homeless [I-89-1]). This project is one in which everyone in the parish can easily participate, with little organization required. While the time period for its accomplishment was Great Lent, a number of the parishioners will continue donating meals throughout the year.
In the spirit of the Lenten season, when we are encouraged to sacrifice and give alms, the Charity Committee, with Fr. John’s blessing, has contacted an established organization and offered to help them in their good works on behalf of St. Herman’s.
The organization is Aid For Friends (AFF), an all-volunteer program, which was founded in 1974 as a response to the elderly handicapped citizens in Philadelphia. To date, they have served over 500,000 meals and are presently serving more than 544 individuals, many in the Chester-Media area.
Aid For Friends has developed into an interfaith community non-profit network of 2,500 volunteers. This group is composed of persons from all walks of life, all religious faiths, and racial backgrounds, sharing one thing in common: a commitment of service to the adult handicapped and elderly shut-ins, in the hope that because of AFF, their lives will be healthier and happier.
Purpose: AFF provides seven frozen home-cooked, nutritious meals to the isolated handicapped and frail elderly who are unable to shop and cook for themselves because of age, health, and in many cases, poverty. All meals are free.
Most referrals are made by case workers in hospitals, religious, welfare or social service agencies; some are made by neighbors and friends. The shut-ins suffer from terminal illnesses, emphysema, crippling arthritis, severe heart disease, strokes, loss of limbs and sight; twenty-five percent of the shut-ins are under 65 years of age.
Cooks: The large majority of AFF meals are donated by individual cook volunteers. AFF asks each volunteer to cook one or more extra meals each week while preparing the dinner meal for their families. This food is placed in an aluminum tray, covered lightly and put into the refrigerator to cool for 1/2 hour. The trays are then covered with aluminum foil, labeled with the date and contents of the meal, sealed in plastic bags, and placed in a freezer. The aluminum trays, labels, and plastic bags are provided by AFF.
Drivers: Some cooks bring the frozen dinners to church on Sunday as part of their offering. They are collected by a driver who brings them to a central freezer.
St. Herman’s will operate as a part of this already established, well run program, and your help is necessary for our part of the program to be a meaningful addition.
Volunteers who are willing to participate in this worthwhile project are asked to take the number of trays they feel they can fill each week. No effort is too small! Your meals can be brought in on Wednesday evenings during Lent, and they will be delivered on Thursday morning. Meals may also be brought to church on Sunday, where they will be kept frozen until that Thursday for delivery. For more information, please see Cynthia or Alice. We also need a driver to deliver our donations to St. John Chrysostom Roman Catholic Church, where they are kept frozen and taken by volunteers to the elderly shut-ins daily. We only need to deliver to St. John’s.
The Charity Committee made two other suggestions for gathering meals:
When the parish holds a dinner, instead of selling or freezing left-overs for parish use, put the extra food in containers and freeze them for the homebound. At their last dinner, St. Herman’s did this and was able to deliver 27 extra meals in this way.
In parishes that are looking for ways to create greater fellowship, those interested can meet perhaps once a month and make the meals together.
To learn of groups in your area that may sponsor similar programs, contact:
The large churches in your area
Hospital social workers
Hospitals that have hospitality homes attached, such as the Ronald McDonald Houses
There may be members of your own parish who could use such a service.
The Committee reported that in addition to the meal makers, there are those from other churches who deliver the meals to the people. The policy of AFF is to assign a volunteer to the same person or persons so that a relationship can be established. In many cases, the volunteers help the people in other waysby taking them to the doctor, by writing letters or paying bills for them, each according to the amount of time they have available. Others who haven’t the time to make meals or deliver them, simply offer money. This is most welcome to AFF also, as there are expenses such as buying the containers and labels used in packaging the meals.