On a recent Thursday morning, while most people were still enjoying coffee and breakfast, volunteers from the Diocese of Nashville were preparing and packing up lunch and dinner meals of soup and sandwiches to be delivered to the residents of Chippington Towers in Madison, an apartment complex for low-income senior citizens.
Right now, volunteers gather on Thursday mornings to prepare 20 meals in the commercial kitchen at the Catholic Pastoral Center.
“We’ve been doing this for a few months, we wanted to start small and manageable,” said Valerie Cooper, who just retired from her position as a case instructor for the diocesan Tribunal Office.
Cooper had the idea to deliver meals and recruited friends from her parish, Christ the King, to help make the lunches, pack the boxes, and deliver the meals. Cathy Kelly and Patty Farmer work alongside Cooper Thursday mornings, with assistance from Kassie Hackler, who manages Holy Grounds, the breakfast and lunch café for Catholic Pastoral Center employees.
The diocese funds the meal delivery program through the Bishop’s Annual Appeal for Ministries.
In the new year, as Cooper steps away from her position with the Tribunal, she will continue to volunteer with the meal program and look at ways to expand it. “We’ll be looking to identify other communities that might need something like this,” said Cooper. “The focus is to reach out.”
Cooper identified Chippington Towers, located in Madison behind St. Joseph Church and School, since it was fairly close to the Catholic Pastoral Center and had a senior population in need. Residents currently receive Meals on Wheels deliveries, but a volunteer at the complex helped identify 20 people who could use an additional meal. Each box is labeled for a specific apartment number so the people most in need will be sure to receive their meal.
“There’s a lot of programs out there, but people fall through the cracks,” said Cooper. She and her fellow volunteers know this small meal delivery effort won’t patch all the cracks, but they are happy to help do what they can.
“We’re not helping all of Nashville, but we’re hoping to help a small part of Nashville,” said Farmer.
Those interested in volunteering can contact Cooper at email@example.com.