In the fall of 1994, Randolph resident and Mt. Freedom Jewish Center member, Louis Pasteelnick received a call from Barbara Lukavich, Parks and Recreation Services Coordinator for Randolph Township.
The request? She was looking for volunteers to participate in the Township’s “Meals on Wheels” program.
That was twenty-three years ago.
Louis and Randolph resident and friend, Susan Waldman helped organize the initial team and then the duo recruited their spouses, Ned Waldman and Madeleine Pasteelnick, along with fellow synagogue members: Jack Brooks, Jackie and Ken Hillman, Roz and Howard Krosser, Lisa Monday and Lew Schwarz. Over the years, the group was joined by non-synagogue neighbors, but good-hearted friends, George and Rachel Nelson.
Susan recalls that there were “eighteen names” on her first hot meal delivery list, and so it has been for most of her monthly Thursdays delivery dates ever since.
Meals on Wheels (MOW) indicates on its Morristown web site that it is been “helping homebound individuals of all ages and seniors remain independent members of society, maintain their health and live their lives with dignity by providing hot, nutritious meals to the homebound delivered by caring and compassionate volunteers.”
Louis observes, “To most of the people, that meal means a great deal. I've received so much good in this life, and I get great satisfaction in doing some good for others. Susan concurs, saying that “ …over the years, I have met lovely people and have made many friends.”
Many MOW recipients are on the list for years, so the Mt. Freedom Jewish center volunteers were welcomed not only into the residents’ living rooms as they brought the hot meal, but into the their lives, often even meeting extended family members.
Susan notes that because of their many years of deliveries, she and Ned have seen parts of Randolph Township that they otherwise might not have visited. We’ve negotiated “overgrown or broken walkways, rickety steps and climbed up and down challenging hills,” concludes Susan, and “we are going to keep on volunteering, as long as we are able.”
For a concentrated effort to continue over twenty three years, Mother Nature is not the only obstacle. An efficient organizer must be at the helm, creating a new schedule every three months. For that, Waldman credits Louis Pasteelnick, saying, “He is the rock that keeps us going. He has had to juggle snowbirds, the people who can only do certain Thursdays during the month, people's vacations and other commitments, etc. When people dropped out for any number of reasons, he was the one who found new volunteers.” Louis, however, doesn’t seek any credit.
According to Louis, volunteering has been one way “for me to express my feelings as a human being and as a Jew, dedicated to being fair and honest and helpful.”
The Mt. Freedom Jewish Center is very proud of its members that are beautifully engaged in the work of helping the needy in the Randolph community—one hot meal at a time.
To volunteer, contact Susan at firstname.lastname@example.org or Louis at email@example.com