Each month caring volunteers from all walks of life and all age groups are involved in First Presbyterian Church’s meals-on-wheels program Break Bread Together. The program provides a hot, balanced, noonday meal five days a week to low income, usually elderly, homebound recipients in Valdosta.
One such volunteer is Catherine Minor. The 96-year-old volunteer and her daughter Cay drive one of the longest routes of the program every Wednesday, serving 11 meals.
“Seven members of my family have served Break Bread,” says Catherine. Her daughter Cay goes with her each week and alternates driving the car. One drives and one takes the meal to the door. They navigate the streets on their route without GPS, only a sheet of paper with typed directions. They do it the old-fashioned way.
Catherine is familiar with her route, which is not surprising. The Alabama native has been serving meals with Break Bread Together for so long she can’t remember when she began to volunteer. “Oh, let me see,” she says, “I know I was volunteering with them before Minor died and that was in 1996.” She’s speaking of her husband of 49 years.
She moved to Valdosta in 1947 after marrying Henry “Doc” Minor from Atlanta, a young dental student she met while working in reservations with Delta Airlines. She had previously graduated from Florida State University in 1945 with a degree in Education and moved to Atlanta. She and Doc moved to Valdosta soon after they married where he started a dental practice and they became members of the First Presbyterian Church. They started their family right away, having three children, Hank, Randy, and Cay. She spent some years as a substitute teacher with S. L. Mason Elementary and Valwood School.
The vibrant volunteer has worked under three Directors of Break Bread over the years. “Mrs. Minor is very focused on others and not herself,” says current Director Beth Mathis. “She’s just one of those people who wants to give back to their community.” Even though Catherine cannot remember exactly when she began volunteering with the program, Mathis thinks it goes as far back as the program’s inception in 1973. She says if it is not that far back, she knows Catherine Minor has given selflessly to Break Bread and involved her whole family, setting the example of community service, and has been a dependable volunteer who keeps a close eye on the recipients.
Besides her daughter, Catherine has had three great-grandchildren involved with Break Bread and her granddaughter Stacey has been an on-call substitute for the program. Her great-grandson Robbie, Stacey’s son, delivers meals every Thursday with students from Valwood School as part of his community service work.
Her granddaughter Sara feels inspired by her grandmother. She has watched Catherine serve others her whole life. “Watching her do it religiously over the years taught me that to give back you don’t have to just give money,” she says. “You can give time. And most people would agree that time is valued much, much more than money. She is the most amazing example.”
When asked why she does it, Catherine says, “It’s the satisfaction of helping somebody.” Another reason she continues to volunteer is the program struggles to keep volunteers. A visit from a volunteer each day keeps the shut-ins from being so depressed, gives them a nutritious meal, and helps them stay in their homes where they want to be. They are people who have almost no food to eat each day and choose between rent, medicines or food to spend their money.
Catherine Minor shows up every Wednesday like clockwork to give back to her community. She expects no accolades and shies away from talking about the important role she plays in the lives of the eleven people to whom she delivers meals.
First Presbyterian is always looking for volunteers to deliver meals for their Break Bread Together program, from 11 to 12:30 Monday through Friday. The organization relies solely on donations and volunteers to support the mission. All donations go to purchase meals and are tax deductible.
Mathis says she currently has 50 people on the waiting list and the wait can be as long as a year. “The gut-wrenching thing for me is when someone is out of the delivery area,” says Mathis. To qualify for meal delivery, the person must be 65 or older, have low income, little or no family support or homebound. Delivery must be within the city limits of Valdosta.
If you would like to help Break Bread Together in either capacity or know someone who needs assistance, please contact Coordinator Beth Mathis at 229-249-0779 or contact her at breakbreadatfirstpresvaldosta.org.
Break Bread Together offices are located in the church at 313 North Patterson Street, Valdosta GA 31601.