Alert “06880” reader — and Homes with Hope CEO — Jeff Wieser writes:
I was at the Gillespie Center community kitchen the other night. I often go at 5 p.m. to thank the volunteers. This generous group of Westporters and Westonites has served dinner there every night since 1989.
I went this time especially because Dolores (“DoDo”) Bacharach was serving with her friends from Assumption Church. She’s done that every month, since she and others formed the community kitchen in Save the Children’s offices around 1983.
It got me thinking that DoDo has done this community service quietly and loyally for all these years — and so have 500 or so volunteers every year since the kitchen started.
Generous family teams, groups of friends and business colleagues, groups from houses of worship and local clubs — all contribute their time, cooking expertise, and the food to serve 20-30 people every night.
Not only do they not ask for thanks, they usually enter and leave the Gillespie Center noticed only by those grateful souls whom they feed. Yet the diners are appreciative. DoDo once said that she loved cooking at Gillespie because “everyone is far more grateful than my family ever was!”
Westport is unique among Fairfield County suburbs in having this sort of facility. Shelter residents get the chance to interact with caring neighbors, and local residents can teach our children and friends that this is not just a bubble of privilege in an enormously blessed community.
These Unsung Heroes — those 500 volunteers every year — quietly show a commitment to social justice and support of our neighbors that should be applauded.
We don’t get many chances: For the few volunteer appreciation events we’ve had, the turnout was light. Our volunteers don’t ask for thanks; they simply want to do what is right for some disadvantaged neighbors.
So I nominate volunteers from the following organizations who serve dinner at least monthly at Gillespie:
- Staples High School culinary classes
- The Service League of Boys (“SLOBs”)
- National Charity League
- Staples High National Honor Society
- Elayne Prince & Friends
- John Karrel & Friends
- Wilton Friends Congregation
- Christ & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church
- Greens Farms Congregational Church
- The Conservative Synagogue
- United Methodist Church
- Unitarian Church Youth Group
- Norfield Church
- Temple Israel
- Emmanuel Church
- Assumption Church
- Saugatuck Congregational Church
- Sunrise Rotary Club
- Peter’s Weston Market
- Zeta Phi Beta Sorority
- Westport Rotary Club
- Westport Young Woman’s League
- Weston Kiwanis Club
… and all the families and friends who fill in throughout the year.