Peggy Cronyn believes seniors from the Pascal Center for Senior Citizens in Glen Burnie understand the concept of volunteering.
"You don't have to explain community development to them," said Ms. Cronyn, director of SHARE, which stands for Self Help and Resource Exchange. "They are great volunteers, so alive!"
So it was no wonder that SHARE chose the Pascal Center to recruit volunteers for a program that exchanges community service and a $13 payment for $35 worth of fresh fruits and vegetables, frozen meat and other groceries.
Edith Dorsey, 62, and her husband, William, 63, both take to heart the SHARE theme of community service in action.
"It's just Bill and I; what we can't use, we give to others," Mrs. Dorsey said. "There are so many people who are hungry and don't have. What's $13 and two hours of volunteering?"
SHARE, a private, non-profit organization, began in San Diego in 1983. Twenty-two chapters are spread around the nation, with SHARE-Baltimore, headquartered in Linthicum and begun in May, as the newest addition.
SHARE-Baltimore, subsidized by Catholic Charities, expects to become self-sufficient next year, once it has 12,000 participants. It presently serves 2,350 people, up from 1,600 in June and 530 in May.
The Pascal Center is one of five sites in Anne Arundel County where goods are distributed. It's also the largest.
The center became involved with SHARE in June. In that month, 120 units of food were distributed to Pascal seniors and their families. A unit of food equals three bags of groceries and costs approximately $35.
This month, 163 units have been distributed.
For each $13 payment in cash, food stamps or any other type of fund transfer -- and a two-hour block of volunteer time for any organization -- a person can receive a unit of food. There is presently no cap on the amount of units any one person or family can earn.
The July menu includes breaded chicken, marinated turkey cutlets, boneless whiting fillets, turkey bologna, celery, romaine lettuce, red potatoes, zucchini, scallions, tomatoes, nectarines, cantaloupe, cereal, taco shells and seasoning mix.
Joe Austin, 72, is one of five individuals who sit on Pascal's SHARE committee. "This program is excellent," he said. "All of the food is fresh, the vegetables are on ice and they are gorgeous. We received no complaints at all from anybody, and we have 40 more sign-ups to show for it."
The committee is responsible for verifying a participant's volunteer service, coordinating the delivery trucks from the SHARE warehouse to the center and setting up the center's food distribution.
"These people are interested in this program because they see it as a good food deal and because there is a strong volunteer force at this center," said Nancy Allred, assistant director of Pascal.
Blanche Belloff, 72, said she originally joined SHARE for the food, before realizing how beneficial the program was.
"We can do this all day, talking and giggling," said her friend, Stella Szymaski, 68. "At first, I thought it was some kind of gimmick. You know, a few hours for some food. It seems amazing that they could do something so nice."