MANNA volunteers deliver Thanksgiving meals to ill residents
Gerry Lipski and his husband, Randy Fox, have been volunteering at MANNA on the holiday for about 30 years.
“I don’t know what Thanksgiving would be without it,” Lipski said.
Wearing a turkey hat, Lipski couldn’t be missed as he called out instructions and assisted in the assembly lines on the second-floor kitchens at MANNA headquarters in Spring Garden.
Over the years, he and Fox have taken the lead of the Thanksgiving distribution, which feeds more than 3,600 people in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania suburbs, and South Jersey.
The size and scope of the organization has significantly grown since its inception in 1990. Then, the main focus was supporting people with HIV/AIDS.
“Back then, it was basically a death sentence, and there was also a stigma,” Lipski said. “We’d go to the client’s house…and sometimes we’d be the only people they would see all week. Not only would we deliver the meal, we would sit with them, we’d do their laundry, walk their animals, feed their pets.”
Today, MANNA continues to serve people living with HIV/AIDS, but also provides meals, nutrition education, and counseling to people living with cancer, kidney disease, heart disease, diabetes, and other medical conditions.
The organization employs a team of dieticians, researchers, and other professionals who tailor meals and programs to people’s specific health conditions.
“People leave the hospital with their discharge orders and they get told where to go to pick up their medicine, where they can go for their chemo and radiation or physical therapy,” Daugherty said. “And then often there’s a very complicated diet. What we hear from our clients over and over, is that it’s such a relief that we can remove that burden from them.”