If you visit the centre on a Tuesday or Thursday morning, you will see the sister team of Dorie Lewis and Chippy Blimbaum hard at work in the auditorium packaging and preparing the meals for the Meals on Wheels program. Their first task is to assemble the meal bags so they are ready for the volunteer drivers to pick-up at 10:00 am. As the food begins to come out of the kitchen, they fill, label and close each individual meal tray. Once completed, the second meal comes out of the kitchen and they begin again. Most days, 3 soups and 4 full meals are prepared and packaged.
Although they are scheduled for a 2-hour shift, they often stay until all meals for the day are packaged, stored in containers and ready to go into the freezer. This work is physically demanding and Dorie and Chippy are constantly on their feet during the entire process.
I recently sat down with both women to learn more about their experience volunteering in the Meals on Wheels program. Despite having just finished a full shift, they were engaging, positive, and full of energy as they spoke about volunteering, their life and how they came to Betel.
Both share a passion for helping others, have a strong work ethic, and boundless energy. Dorie worked in an office and then stayed at home to raise 3 children. While at home Dorie became an entrepreneur doing a variety of jobs including dressmaking; teaching music history, and selling baked goods during holidays. When her children were older, she returned to work in a property management office where she handled all the administrative duties. In addition to working and raising her family, Dorie volunteered at the gift shop in her synagogue and with the Sisterhood. During the winter, Dorie and her husband travelled south and she volunteered at a Florida school reading to children. Chippy and her husband ran a wholesale women’s clothing business while raising their 3 children. They managed 3 stores in Toronto and 5 other locations in Ontario. When they sold the business, Chippy continued working in administrative positions and her last job was with the Build-A-Bear company. She did volunteer as a teenager at Bloorview MacMillan Children’s Centre assisting with children’s programs and later while working, organized a toy drive at Build-A-Bear.
Dorie was the first to join the Betel centre in 2010 when she and her sister-in-law took a pottery class. In 2013, when Chippy retired, she became a member. Both enjoy going on Betel trips, attending plays, and using the Chiropody services.
Dorie and Chippy come from a large family with 12 other brothers and sisters. Chippy is the youngest of her siblings. Sadly, she never knew 2 of her siblings. One passed from Scarlett fever and the other was tragically killed by a drunk driver. Despite these losses, they remember their childhood as happy with loving parents and the support and caring of an extended family.
Dorie remembers her father always said, “There but for the Grace of God… everyone needs something, but if you don’t need to take, share what you have.” She adds, “He was a man who did things quietly.” He asked his friend, who was a priest, for a list of people in the community who were in need. Their home was always filled with cartons waiting to be filled with donated items; necessities purchased using their own ration books; hand-knitted items and preserves made by their mother. When the cartons were filled, the family would load up the car and deliver the boxes.
Their father was a Sergeant Major in the Irish Army who did not have to go to war as he was head of a large family. Three of their brothers did go to war and luckily returned home. Their father was a tailor who made uniforms/kilts for the soldiers and their mother was a homemaker who cooked, canned and made preserves. Chippy remembers every Friday, her mother would prepare and deliver the Shabbat meal to her grandmother and 2 aunts who were alone and needed support.
Dorie and Chippy are following in their parent’s footsteps. “You get more out of giving, then getting. Although I am happy to receive, my greater joy is in giving. It is fulfilling.” says Dorie. Chippy adds, “I love volunteering. If you have nothing to do, it can lead to depression, anxiety and other health issues. It is great to socialize and meet nice people.”
Dorie’s doctor gave her this advice. “Don’t stop. Whatever you are doing – don’t stop.” We are thankful that Dorie and Chippy have joined our Betel volunteer team to continue their family legacy of giving back to the community.
Cheryl Besner, Manager, Volunteer Services
For more information about volunteering at the Bernard Betel Centre, click HERE.