The Banquet of Salem continues to serve good food and good will

Headed toward a decade of service, the Banquet in Salem continues to serve hundreds of area residents with good food and good company.

The Banquet began Sept. 24, 2004. It was created through the efforts of four Salem churches and their respective pastors:?Holy Trinity Lutheran Church with Pastor Connie Sassanella; First Christian Church with the late Pastor Jack Austin; Emmanuel Lutheran Church with Pastor Bill Wilkins; and, St. Paul Catholic Church with Rev. Thomas Eiswerth.

Theirs was a wonderful idea that continues to be fulfilled – not just each Monday but on the fourth Thursday of each month. With the cold weather and holidays rapidly approaching it plays a big part in the lives of so many. It is important to remember too that there are no qualifiers involved. That is anyone wanting to stop in and have a good meal is welcome. There are no stipulations based on need or anything of that sort. It is void of any shame factors. It is not a stereotypical soup line replete with accompanying aspersions – however wrong – cast on those participating. It is akin to a social event, often removing the lonliness out of the day for many. For some, it is even their day’s highlight.

Held at the Memorial Building, the Banquet of Salem is a 501.3c, operating strictly by donations. The Salem News routinely publishes each Banquet’s particular menu and sponsor. We are glad to do our part. Sponsors hail from various churches, businesses and service organizations. Some are anonymous. Thanks to all of you.

The volume of meals served and those taking advantage is prodigious. For example from May 9, 2012, through May 29, 2013 – covering 61 Banquets – 12,001 meals were served including 1,486 children. Each Banquet averaged 202 attendees.

The Banquet in Salem would not exist were it not for generous sponsors providing food and the warmhearted volunteers serving the often-warm meals. We would like to acknowledge them as this great community-minded gesture heads toward a decade of service.

Officers at the beginning Banquet were President Pastor Bill Wilkins, Vice President Pastor Connie Sassanella, Secretary Jeanne Samsa and Treasurer Kevin Seguin.

Present officers are President Pastor Connie Sassanella, Vice President Randy Colian, Secretary Patty Colian and Treasurer Pastor Bill Wilkins.

Four ladies have been volunteering since the beginning of the Banquet. They are Beverly Henderson, who oversees the dining room and does the scheduling for the Banquet; Dorothy Gottschling who oversees the Welcome Room and hands out the tickets for the meal; Donna Lynn, who assists in the dining room; and, Frances Ziegler, who is in charge of purchasing.

Others who have volunteered in other capacities are Ellen Garrett, Lorraine Bongiovanni, Marilyn Hoopes, Sue Watson, Margie Catlos, Helene Johnson, Rev. Aimee Raymond, Rev. Lou Raymond and Patty Colian.

The Salem Community Foundation has played a big part in helping out, providing grants for supplies purchases and food preparation. In December the Community Foundation will be providing money for books to be given to the children who attend the Banquet.

Oh and by the way, today’s meal is being provided by Fresh Mark Inc. The menu is chicken noodle soup, ham, scalloped potatoes, green beans, applesauce, fresh fruits, vegetables and ice cream. Served, of course, with heapings of good will and fellowship.