Tonawanda News

Local News

January 10, 2013

HELPING HAND

Tonawanda News — A building in the heart of the Lumber City that serves as a lifeline for the financially challenged has seen better days. 

Under the umbrella of the Twin Cities Community Outreach, three non-profit groups including the North Tonawanda Meals on Wheels, the Inter-Church Food Pantry and the Twin Cities Clothes Closet are oftentimes a last stop for those struggling to get by. 

But the building where the organizations are centered, along Ridge Road behind the high school, is in poor condition, and the dozens of volunteers who come each day to run the operations in it are feeling the effects of the long and frigid winter months. 

After raising its prices in November by 50 cents to make ends meet, the North Tonawanda Meals on Wheels — run by a nearly all-volunteer force of approximately 120 individuals and four paid staff members, who delivers one to two meals each day to 110 largely elderly residents of the Twin Cities — is attempting to come to terms with the elements, with wind often whipping through the front door and into the remainder of the structure. 

That structure, however, has come a long way from it early days. Those who have been involved recalled having water pouring through the roof just after the building that was acquired in 1973 for just $1, though despite many improvements, trouble still remains. 

“Every time we open our door we get a blast of cold air throughout our building,” said Paul Gerlach, a volunteer with Meals on Wheels since 2004, after retiring as a high school elementary principal. 

Susan Hittle, president of the North Tonawanda Meals on Wheels, said that the only way the organization can function is through the generosity of others, as the $6 fee charged to recipients who get the meals is not enough to sustain the program. That leaves donations collected during four major fundraisers throughout the year to make up the difference. 

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