Meals-On-Wheels Celebrity Day: Reading Fightin' Phils' pitchers visit Berks Encore, Strausstown

Item photo by Shea Singley Seniors from Berks Encore-Strausstown with Reading Fightin' Phils' pitchers Perci Garner and Jesse Biddle.
Item photo by Shea Singley Jesse Biddle mans the grill for the picnic style lunch.

Seniors at Berks Encore centers across Berks County and those that are part of the Meals-On-Wheels program were treated to a special surprise on Tuesday, May 6, during Meals-On-Wheels Celebrity Day.

This year it was not only local “celebrities” from area businesses, but also players from the Reading Fightin’ Phils.

“The Reading Fightin’ Phils are always happy to support the local community,” said Mike Robinson, Reading Fightin’ Phils 2014 Celebrity Chair Spokesperson, on the Berks Encore website. “Our organization realizes that when other local businesses and organizations succeed, we all share in that success.”

Seniors at Berks Encore-Strausstown had the chance to meet pitchers Jesses Biddle and Perci Garner. The players were given a tour of the center and center manager Terry Becker explained the Meals-On-Wheels program as well as what goes on at the center. Earlier in the day Becker pointed out how important the Meals-On-Wheels program is not only by giving a hot lunch to those that may need it, but also providing company. Some of the participants have said that more important than the meal is being able to see the volunteers who are delivering the meals.


After their tour the players took time to speak with and get to know the Strausstown area seniors. Of course they discussed baseball and the pitchers were more than happy to talk about their experiences on and off the field with the team. Though it was the first time for the players in Strausstown, Biddle was a bit more familiar with the area having grown up in Philadelphia. As they talked, seniors also had their photos taken with the two pitchers and a group shot was taken as well.

Then it was time for some friendly competition. While some seniors continued to play cards or work on puzzles, Bill and Bill (known as Left Bill and Right Bill during the game) teamed up with Garner and Biddle for an intense game of shuffleboard. Though it was a friendly match, the competitive nature was there. The Bills were even able to teach the baseball players a thing or two about shuffleboard and did not give anything away sticking by the rules with lines not counting. At one point the game was even tied at 39 each.

After the winners were declared, it was time for a cook out. Biddle took over manning the grill as hotdogs were prepared for lunch. As they grilled, Garner and Biddle talked about traveling, their experiences such as Biddle’s time at the Futures Game during the All-Star Game festivities in New York last year, their time meeting other players and just their everyday lives as players for a minor league baseball team.

The day was full of plenty of smiles and great conversation which continued as the players enjoyed a quick lunch with the seniors before having to get back. Biddle and Garner enjoyed getting to know the seniors just as much as they enjoyed meeting the two baseball players. Meals-On-Wheels Celebrity Day went very well and created some great memories for all involved while at the same time bringing attention to the important program which is prepared and delivered by volunteers to those that may depend on the meal or look forward to the company.

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About the Author

Shea Singley

Shea Singley is the editor of The Hamburg Area Item. She grew up in Berks County and spent three years at the University of Arizona, Tucson, where she double majored in Creative Writing and English before transferring to Kutztown University where she majored in Professional Writing. Shea graduated from Kutztown University in 2012 and during that time completed an internship in the publication department of a non-profit organization in Washington, DC. She joined Berks-Mont Newspapers in March of 2013 and had enjoyed getting the chance to explore the Hamburg area and meet the readers. Reach the author at or follow Shea on Twitter: @hamburgitem.