Apr. 01, 2002
By Rhonda Wofford
Post-Crescent staff writer
APPLETON — Brenda Perkins doesn’t let multiple sclerosis keep her from volunteering for the We Care Meals Group’s Easter dinner, held Sunday at the Moose Lodge.
Starting two weeks ago, Perkins, 56, worked up to six hours a day, seven days a week, scheduling deliveries for shut-ins.
“I have MS, so I asked them if there was anything I could do from my home in Greenville,” Perkins said.
Determined to stay independent, Perkins uses a scooter to get around. She said the telephone work helps her stay involved and positive.
“I’ve been doing this for three years, and it’s been just delightful,” she said. “I have a chance to talk to the people one-on-one, and a lot of them are elderly, and they need that attention. It’s good for me, too, because I find out that there are people worse off than I am.”
Ed Rathsack, John Strebe and Donna Banaszynski coordinate the dinner, and say help from Perkins and others was especially valued this year.
“We had over 550 deliveries, and we served at least 2,000 meals here, plus people took home food,” Rathsack said.
Last year, the group served about 1,500, and delivered about 400 meals. Organizers say the economy is probably behind the increase.
Tod M. Zoromski, a chef and Fox Valley Technical College student, has cooked for the past four years.
“It was a good feeling to do this, even though you busted your butt,” he said. “It’s a good tired.”
Tom Maves volunteered with Future Communications of Appleton, which donated voice mail for reservations and delivery requests and phone lines for diners to make free calls nationwide.
“The energy was amazing. I never saw the lines out the door this way, and they stayed that way for two hours,” he said. “We had a lot of first-time volunteers who asked, ‘Where can I sign up to continue doing this next year?’”
Though the volume of diners kept the room full to capacity, Rathsack said everyone was able to find a seat after going through the buffet line.
“People have suggested we go back to The Avenue Mall, where we’d have more room,” Rathsack said. “There’s nowhere to cook there, and with so much space, people spread out and, we don’t get them to talk to each other. That’s just as important as the food.”
Diners received Easter baskets and cards donated by area schoolchildren. Miller Electric, Aid Association for Lutherans/ Lutheran Brotherhood, Aramark and others donated food and supplies for the meal.
“It’s getting so big, I didn’t sleep at all last night,” Rathsack said. “We’ll keep on doing what we can, and we sure do appreciate all the donations and volunteers.”
Rhonda Wofford can be reached at 920-993-1000, ext. 215
Copyright © 2002 Gannett Wisconsin Online