Entering our 40th year of serving older adults in Philadelphia!
Each Saturday a group of 60 older adults gathers at the Old Pine Community Center. Since April 1978, this program has provided seniors with fellowship and food: a free hot noon meal and a take home bag lunch.
Shortly after the Old Pine Community Center opened its doors in 1977, it was recognized that there were no programs for older adults. A Temple University graduate student was hired to ring doorbells in East and South Philadelphia to determine what seniors truly needed. She found that they were well served by city senior centers Monday through Friday but those facilities were closed on weekends. That meant hundreds of seniors were without companionship and in many cases without adequate food for two days each week.
The Saturday for Seniors program was created to fill that gap. The invitation went out for the last Saturday in April 1978. They came, suspicious at first, but soon learned the lunch was indeed free and so was the morning snack and take home bag with soup, fruit and cookies. After the first invitation, we never again advertised. Word of mouth fills the seats each week as seniors travel from all over the city.
That was nearly 40 years ago. Throughout those years we have fried, roasted, boiled and scrambled everything from chicken to chickpeas. Support comes from the church, the community and from many organizations. Haverford School collects thousands of cans of soup each fall. Drexel University sends student volunteers each week October to June. The members and friends of Old Pine Street Church do the shopping, meal planning, cooking and volunteer coordination each week. Seasonal celebrations include special Thanksgiving and Easter meals. A wonderful holiday meal is served on Christmas Day, hosted by our friends in the Jewish community. More than 190,000 meals have been served and we are still going strong.