Volunteer Spotlight: Mt. Ascutney ER Crew Helps With Windsor Town Meals

Windsor — It’s probably expected that the doctors, nurses and support staff in the emergency department at Mt. Ascutney Hospital and Health Center repair broken bones, bring down fevers, stitch up cuts and mend bodies that have been injured in ways that most of us would just as soon not imagine.

What’s less expected is that those hospital workers extend their care beyond the walls of the ER by hosting a free community meal once a month at the American Legion Hall on Court Street.

Beth Gould, manager of the ER department and an employee of the hospital for more than 30 years, said she first became involved with the community meals 15 years ago when the weekly dinners were being served out of a church. She forgets why the hospital’s involvement waned at some point in the past. But when a memo came around three years ago asking for volunteers to assist with the free dinners once again, Gould rallied the ER department to serve the cause.

It’s a natural fit, Gould said, since the hospital is community-oriented in general. But it’s the clear need for assistance among the population served at the weekly meals that keeps Gould and the rest of the department, around 20 people altogether, coming back to the Legion Hall once a month to serve corned beef (for St. Patrick’s Day) or a summer barbecue in late May.

According to Gould, a different group in the community hosts the meal each week. At the beginning of the month, she said 40 to 60 people will arrive for dinner between 5 and 6 p.m. .“(But) we tend to host our dinners at the end of the month,” when people’s money starts to run low, Gould said. That’s when as many as 90 hungry people may show up for dinner.

“The need is really there,” Gould said. “People will tell us that this is the only meal they have had that week. So we try to make enough food to send people home with leftovers.”

The Wednesday dinners in Windsor take a hiatus at the end of June and will resume again in September, Gould said. In the meantime, she hopes people will make donations to their local food banks and institute free meal programs in their own communities.

“We should all be doing this,” Gould said. “We all should be helping other people.”

Anyone interested in volunteering at the community meals in Windsor can call the Rev. Amanda Lape-Freeberg at 802-674-5087.

Diane Taylor can be reached at 603-727-3221 or dtaylor@vnews.com.