Foundation Hosts Appreciation Picnic for Passavant Residents

The summertime aroma of sizzling hot dogs and hamburgers cooking on the grill filled the air, as residents of Passavant Community eagerly embraced the revival of the resident appreciation picnic, graciously organized by the Lutheran SeniorLife Foundation.

“The residents of Passavant are very generous with the Foundation, this is a chance to get all of the resident’s together and say ‘Thank you,” explained Jane Bittcher, president of the Lutheran SeniorLife Foundation. “We get to meet them, they get to meet us and they meet each other. It’s a chance for people to get out of their homes, come down and hear some music.”

While other residents viewed the picnic as an opportunity to socialize, Janet Mercadante, who recently moved into Newhaven Court in June, took advantage of the occasion to make new acquaintances and forge new friendships.

“Everybody is very friendly,” said Mercadante. “It’s been very welcoming – it’s a big change for me.”

Phyllis Stoyle, who has lived at the Villas for over a year, has made “hundreds” of friends thanks to these kinds of events.

“It was just wonderful, you get to see all the nice beautiful people that live here,” explained Stoyle.

In fact Stoyle and Mercadante have become fast friends. Stoyle gleamed with excitement about getting Mercadante to come to an upcoming ladies night to help her meet even more people.

As the burgers and hot dogs took center stage as the main course, the meal required a fitting dessert to complete the meal. Bittcher contacted former Chairman of the Foundation Board, The Reverend Michael Sourwine, pastor at House of Prayer Lutheran Church in Aliquippa, and their new community outreach program, The Little Free Food Truck.

Bittcher saw an opportunity to not only showcase their new food truck, but bring awareness to The Little Free Food Truck’s meaningful mission.

Stephanie Murdoch, the program director of The Little Free Food Truck, defines their mission as fostering community through shared meals, aiming to bring people together, foster celebration, and nourish them.

Murdoch elaborates on how The Little Free Food Truck has actively engaged with local communities, creating numerous opportunities for meaningful and impactful conversations to take place.

“There has been a long relationship between the churches of the SYNOD and Lutheran SeniorLife caring for each other,” said Reverend Sourwine. “This is an opportunity for House of Prayer to come out here and partner with Lutheran SeniorLife and do ministry together.”

While The Little Free Food Truck provided three desert options; a strawberry short cake, a cherry crisp and a mocha brownie truffle, the residents generously donated over $100 to help the cause.

Alvin Stoker, a Passavant Community resident from the Beaver County area where the Food Truck operates, said the effect it could have on the community is very important.

“Wherever the food truck may travel to, it is going to have an impact on that community,” said Stoker “The people will be very appreciative of that.”

Mercadante has an even closer relationship to House of Prayer as a devoted member to the church for over 20 years – having been baptized in 1936, married in 1955, and having all five of her children baptized there.

“I think it’s amazing,” Mercadante remarks about the food truck’s presence and the strong connection House of Prayer maintains within the community she grew up in.

With an abundance of delicious food and engaging conversations, the picnic served as a joyous and ceremonial welcome back for an already close community.

“If I could find a word better than fantastic, I would give it, but I don’t think there is one,” said Stoker “Everything was just awesome. The weather was fantastic, the music was wonderful. From the all the different food, from the chef making the food, to the young people that were here helping, they were great, they did everything for you. It was just wonderful. We just couldn’t be more appreciative of it. We are honored that it was done for us.”