ROCKLAND, Maine — Edwin Burch said he came to the community Easter dinner just as much for the social life as for the food.
Burch was one of dozens of people who turned out Sunday at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Rockland for the annual free Easter dinner sponsored by the Adas Yoshuron Synagogue.
Lisa Breheny of Rockport has been the coordinator of the Easter, Christmas and monthly Sunday meals sponsored by the Rockland synagogue for about 10 years. Breheny said, however, the meals could not be put on without the donations from stores and restaurants and numerous volunteers from various faiths.
Breheny said helping to put on the dinner is something she really wanted to do.
Kathy Beck said she first volunteered for the Christmas dinner about five years ago while she was visiting her daughter in Union. Beck, who worked in the jewelry industry in New York City at the time, said she and her daughter saw the dinner advertised in the newspaper and since they had no other family in the area, decided to volunteer.
When Beck moved to Rockland four years ago she decided to offer her help for the community dinners.
“I wanted to give back to the community,” Beck said. “Plus it keeps me busy.”
She also is the assistant director for the Area Interfaith Outreach food pantry in Rockland.
Beck made a pitch for the food pantry, noting that there are needs for such staples as pasta sauce and canned fruit.
Michael James Carlson of Rockland said this was the first time he had volunteered for the Easter dinner.
“A friend of mine mentioned it and I said ‘I’m not doing anything for Easter,’” Carlson said as he mixed together a potato and sweet potato mix over a large frying pan.
Breheny and Beck said the holiday meals and other monthly meals would not be possible without the support of businesses such as Hannaford, Cafe Miranda, Sweets and Meats, the Market Basket, Waterfront restaurant, Waterworks restaurant, French and Brawn, Bowden’s Eggs, Sweet Sensations, Primo, Thomaston Cafe, Natalie’s and Francine.
Breheny said the meals are advertised with local churches, town offices, schools and with posters around towns from Belfast to Rockland.
Breheny said she began preparing for the Easter meal about two weeks ago by putting in the requests for donations.
The meals are important for people who are alone or unable to prepare their own meals.
One of those people is Burch.
Burch said he attends the holiday meals as well as the St. Bernard’s soup kitchen.
“It’s nice here. The meals are pleasant and the social life is nice,” Burch said.
“The social life goes down as good as the food,” he said, noting he socializes with people he has met at prior community dinners.
People attending the meal were able to feast on a variety of appetizers, ham, mashed potatoes and numerous desserts.
Breheny said some of the people who partake in the meal brought her gifts.
“I wasn’t expecting that,” she said.