Outreach Helps Older Residents See Beyond Own Concerns

Post a Comment » Written on February 4th, 2009     
Filed under: News
BREWSTER, MA (February 4, 2009) – For six years, 95-year-old Fred Zacheus has led the residents in the Epoch Assisted Living Center to provide baby diapers and other necessities for A Baby Center (ABC), which serves low-income families.

“Fred had moved into the center when his wife was ill,” says Tom Nelson, pastor of Cape Cod Covenant Church. “After she died, Fred looked around and saw so many sad folks that he felt the residents needed to be more actively involved in helping people.”

DiapersHe kept telling Nelson, “We need to do something here that will help us get outside of our own problems.”

That led to helping ABC. The Cape Cod Council of Churches operates the facility, providing critical items for infants and toddlers up to the age of three whose families’ income qualifies under federal Women, Infants and Children (WIC) guidelines. Most of the clients are homeless or extremely poor.

The center goes through about 15,000 diapers every month, according to Mary Pat Piersons, the ABC director.

The project began on a small scale, with Epoch residents buying diapers and then gathering them together for donation. Over the years it has grown so that residents drop diapers in a playpen located in the lobby. Visitors to the center also contribute.

Residents have enthusiastically supported the ministry. In addition to collecting donations, they formed a knitting group to create baby blankets and other baby items.

A retired business executive, Zacheus (accompanying photo) has made supporting the center his cause. “He even goes to the local grocery stores and challenges them to ‘get on board’ and to donate diapers and supplies,” says Nelson. The managers and employees of the stores love Fred. He seems to care for them – and he never forgets a name – while he is getting them to open their pockets to give to the baby center.”

The playpen fills up every six to eight weeks. Then Zacheus, fellow resident Warren Cooper, and Nelson load the items into the back of a pickup truck and deliver them to the center.

The diapers are sorely needed. The volunteer-staffed center survives through corporate grants and private donations, but recently has had to make cutbacks, Piersons says.

Zacheus is humble about his own work. He is just trying to do what Jesus wants him to do, he explains. Zacheus does more than collect and deliver the necessities. He gives of himself. He spends time with the families.

“I am amazed that here is a man 95 years older than these infants and to see their tiny hands in his is just wonderful,” Nelson says.

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