Loaves and Fishes Volunteers from the Church of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Maplewood came to serve their last meal at Catholic Charities’ Dorothy Day Center in early August.
It was no ordinary night for the volunteers, but a bittersweet opportunity to remember a tradition of service, and look forward to what the future has in store.
Three of the members, Vic Baller, Jeanne McNulty and Eva Pedersen have been serving meals for Catholic Charities’ clients since before there was a Dorothy Day Center, some even going back to when meals were served out of Assumption Church!
While Jeanne and Vic had retired from volunteering, they came back for the last dinner at Dorothy Day Center. They all helped in the kitchen, posed for photos and talked about the old days.
Eva never stopped volunteering, no matter her age. She passed out cookies at their final meal.
Volunteering was a tradition for the Baller family. Vic and his wife Leona started preparing meals in the early days and then brought their seven children along. It was evident volunteering remains a family value, as Vic and his daughter sat by the exit, handing out after dinner mints as guests left the dining room.
‘I like helping people—seeing people get the help they’re needing,” McNulty said.
Back in the day, they were even involved in shopping for groceries and preparing meals. There were spiral binders full of recipes in the Baller house. Sometimes they would test the recipes out as a family to be sure they would be a hit for guests.
“We’re just a bunch of people that like to join others and work together,” Baller said. “Satisfaction is being able to help my people.”
We love our volunteers, but admit we have a special place in our hearts for those who stick with us through the decades!