Residents of Wyndcliffe House Apartments in Hamburg enjoyed an early Thanksgiving meal on Saturday, Nov. 12. Members of Salem EC Church, Lenhartsville, loaded up roasters full of turkey, stuffing and gravy and bowls of cranberry sauce to share in a communal meal.
These meals are a newly established tradition between the church and residents.
Lynda Zuercher is site manager for Wyndcliffe House, which offers subsidized housing to seniors age 62 and older or adults with a handicap or disability. There are 100 single-bedroom units, and most of the residents live alone.
“Thanksgiving dinner, that was a great idea,” Zuercher said. “A lot of the residents don’t have families to go to for holidays.”
“It gives the residents something to look forward to doing,” she added. “And they don’t have to do their own cooking.”
Providing the meals is a community effort. Pastor Dave Long coordinates a date with Zuercher, then heads over to the apartments a few weeks ahead of time to post flyers. Some church members donate food, others prepare it, and a third group takes the food to Wyndcliffe’s community room and serves it to the residents. Then they fill their own plates, sit down and visit with their neighbors.
Deb Pirkey has gone to serve the meals several times. She likes the idea that, instead of having people come to the church, the church goes out to them.
“Most people think you’re going there to bless or serve those who may need additional help, but I know I always get a real blessing being there, talking and sitting and laughing with the folks,” she said. “This past time was especially nice in that regard. I got to meet a few ladies I didn’t know. It’s very uplifting.”
Taking a meal to Wyndcliffe, and connecting with the residents there, began when church members delivered leftovers from a pig-roast fundraiser to the apartments in the early fall of 2015. The residents were so receptive, Long recalled, that the church decided to make intentional plans for future meals.
They served ham and green beans in late 2015 and took out pans of lasagna a few months later. When planning for the 2016 pig roast, the pastor said, “We actually factored in enough extra meals to take some out to the residents.”
The ties between Salem and Wyndcliffe are obvious ones, Long said. Several members have lived in the units over the years.
“We’ve gotten to know some of the people through visitation, and through Christmas caroling,” he explained. “I think it’s a great opportunity to meet the needs in our community. We are showing Christ-like love to our neighbors in a very tangible way.”
For this early Thanksgiving meal, about 45 residents attended. Ten volunteers, including the pastor, served, ate and cleaned up on Saturday.
“I like getting to know the people,” Long added. “They’re a lot of fun. I like hearing about their life experiences.”
Long’s teenage son, Ethan, also helped with the turkey meal.
“I enjoy helping the people out,” he said, noting that many residents were waiting for the meal to arrive. “You can tell they really like it. And I think it’s nice to be able to talk with them.”
“What they did on Saturday was great. There was a meal and the camaraderie of getting together,” Zuercher concluded. “That was perfect.”
A local food pantry also comes to Wyndcliffe House Apartments once a month. Zuercher said other groups may contact her at 610-562-4902 about ways to visit and support the residents.