In celebration of Passover, 90 seniors in the Santa Clarita Valley were delivered meals Friday.
Sheila and Scott Petri and their kids Sam, 13, and Sarah, 16, are congregants of Temple Beth Ami, and were searching for a community service project for Sam’s upcoming bat mitzvah.
“I wanted to do something,” Sam said. “And Passover is a pretty important holiday for us.”
With the pandemic limiting Sam’s volunteer options, she said she instead chose to donate meals to homebound seniors, like her grandmother, who have been isolated since they were told to quarantine a year ago.
“(We) have a lot of elderly people in our family … so this has been a particularly soft spot for us, (as) we’d like to improve the lives of seniors because they’ve been isolated,” added Sam’s father, Scott. “And we know that it’s a nice, little ray of sunshine when they get to interact with young people in any way.”
The family reached out to Rabbi Mark Blazer, who, in turn, reached out to the Bella Vida SCV Senior Center, in search of the right seniors to receive the meals.
“However many people want to do it, we will get the meals,” Blazer recalled telling Kevin MacDonald, executive director of the Senior Center.
“We got the word out, and I thought maybe five or 10 (people would respond), and it was at 90 in no time flat,” added MacDonald, “which is really, really nice.”
For the Senior Center, it quickly became an opportunity to provide seniors with another holiday meal.
“We’re well-known for our Thanksgiving meal, so now we had an opportunity to celebrate another important holiday, and with the donation, we’re able to give them that special meal that’s well-deserved on Passover,” MacDonald said. “I think it’s a nice partnership between the synagogue and the Senior Center, filling a need … (and) these are expensive meals, so it’s really nice of the donor.”
Blazer said it’s a special opportunity for the Petri family, “especially given the fact that people have the impulse to do good things, but there’s been so many limitations to what they can even do (because of the pandemic). … And what’s really beautiful and heartwarming is that those impulses are there.”
For the Petris, it was a great way to give back to a community that has been there for one another through the pandemic.
“Santa Clarita has really been a wonderful place to have been (in while) experiencing this pandemic because people are really polite and respectful to each other,” said Sam’s mother, Sheila, adding that it’s for this reason they were so excited to give back to the community. “Rabbi Bazer and his wife, Tracy, have really helped us to do this, (and) we’re grateful for them.”
While Blazer said they wish they’d be able to celebrate the holiday in person with the seniors, he is looking forward to making the meal donation an annual occurrence.
“For those people that are homebound all the time — not just because of pandemic — now that now we’ve done this, I don’t think we’ll stop,” he added.