Volunteers Persevere In Tough Times

Volunteers Persevere In Tough Times

Rising Hope Homebound Ministry endures.

Debra Bessert and Lorraine Grant load the Homebound grocery bags in Rising Hope’s food pantry.

Debra Bessert and Lorraine Grant load the Homebound grocery bags in Rising Hope’s food pantry. Photo by Ed Simmons, Jr.


Ruth Arthur, a long-time Rising Hope volunteer, age 93, fills grocery bags for the homebound.


Bill Walters, volunteer, loads the van for delivery.


Long-time volunteer Tom Finnegan drives the van.

“With the downturn in the economy we don’t have the donations we used to have,” said Debra Bessert, the Rising Hope volunteer who directs the church’s Homebound Ministry which delivers food to shut-in seniors and convalescents.

“We’re experiencing an extraordinary shortage of money,” she says.

Aiding the poor and needy along the Route 1 corridor, Rising Hope United Methodist Mission Church is located at 8220 Russell Road, between Hybla Valley and Woodlawn. A tall white cross stands out front. Delivering food to homebound seniors and convalescents is one of the church’s many ministries.

Early on Wednesday mornings Bessert’s team gathers in Rising Hope’s Milk and Honey Food Pantry. Three long tables hold upright paper bags, each numbered to match with the driver’s address list. Some have a list of special diet needs for diabetics and those needed low salt are clothes-pinned to the bags.

Each week there are 40 to 50 bags.

Volunteers Lorraine Grant, Allan Garber and Ruth Arthur work quickly filling the bags with bread, canned soup, tuna, pasta, rice, bread and fresh produce if it’s available.

“We are looking for creative ways to raise money in donations to keep this vital mission going,” said Bessert. “Every dollar that is donated goes 100 percent for food. There’s no overhead.”

When the bags are filled, volunteers Tom Finnegan and Bill Walters carry them out to Rising Hope’s white Ford van. The driver, Finnegan has been a volunteer for 13 years. John Delara also drives. Lisa Rose, another volunteer, rides along to help.

It takes $150 a week to buy the food. Bessert and Grant purchase it at Aldis, a discount supermarket across the street. “We could not fund this food ministry without Aldis,” said Bessert, “because the prices are so great.”

She and her team pray that donations will come in. “Emergency food is vital to keeping these people going,” she said.