Seniors from St. Charles' Brighton Gardens volunteer at Northern Illinois Food Bank

Publish Date:

Monday, August 28, 2017 4:29 pm EDT

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Daily Herald

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To create a picture in your mind that the senior citizens living at Brighton Gardens of St. Charles basically eat, sleep and watch TV all day would be a terribly inaccurate portrayal.

Sure, the health of some of our elderly would be cause for a sedentary lifestyle, but some Brighton residents are carrying on with the passions in their life -- volunteering to help others.

The Northern Illinois Food Bank is the local recipient of some Brighton residents' energy and desire to help others.

Before coming to live at Brighton, a Sunrise Senior Living facility on Dunhman Road, Betty Bendz learned much about being a volunteer at her church and with the Girl Scouts.

But her desire to help others has deep roots, starting from when she was a young girl and saw her mother feed a hungry stranger.

"It's nice to know someone, especially children, won't be going hungry," Bendz said of her time at the food bank. "If you are able to help someone, you do it."

Dennis Riddle's desire to help at the food bank comes from the same foundation. He, too, watched his parents give food away from their farm to strangers during the Great Depression.

He knows what it does for him mentally to feed others.

"It feels good to help somebody else and feel useful," he said. "If you're helping people, then you're doing your job."

Helping at the food bank brings a slightly different feel of fulfillment to Diana Carter, who spent many hours in her youth marching for civil rights and joining the Freedom Riders in Mississippi.

She said much of her inspiration comes from a Mother Teresa quote: "If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one."

Of all of these wonderful folks at Brighton, Dick Eckert can say he comes to the food bank with plenty of experience.

He and his wife Ann established a food pantry in Doniphan, Missouri, in 1973, one that he estimates still provides for 1,000 local families.

He continues to support that operation, in addition to helping at the Northern Illinois Food Bank, by selling raffle tickets for its fundraisers.

Mostly, Eckert feels others should experience the joys of being a volunteer.

 
"It enriches your own life and it makes a person feel better about one's self," said Eckert, who also raises money for St. Jude's Children's Hospital. "It is very rewarding."

Does that sound like older folks just sitting around waiting for the next meal or TV show?

 

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