JOHNSTOWN — “Remember, people who are down and out sometimes can’t help where they are,” said Joan Bost. “We need to give compassion and love to everyone.”
That is what Joan Bost reminds people when she’s out soliciting money for the Saturday’s Kitchen Fund at the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies, or cooking up a hot meal for those who need it most. Bost started Saturday’s Kitchen nearly nine years ago after reading an article in the paper about a local food pantry.
“There was a woman who was quoted telling her kids to eat well today because they won’t eat again until Monday,” said Bost. “I just could not imagine that, so that’s how I began Saturday’s Kitchen.”
The East Taylor native is no stranger to raising money or volunteering. For years, she raised money for the American Cancer Society, so raising money to start Saturday’s Kitchen came naturally for her. One thing Bost never expected was for her idea to grow the way it did.
“We started the first Saturday in January back in 2008. Within four months we expanded to take on Sundays as well.”
Bost said her Saturday’s Kitchen Fund helps 24 food pantries in Cambria County, plus the Family Kitchen and the St. Vincent DePaul Society. Bost said over the years her fund has helped contribute more than $60,000 to St. Vincent DePaul. “The community keeps me going year after year. I am amazed at the response and generosity,” said Bost. “People will send notes with their checks and I feel like I know them. I feel close to them because without them we wouldn’t be able to do what we do.”
This retired nurse said she makes sure every meal is healthy and taste good. She wants those who eat it to have the proper nutrition.
“We try to make sure it’s not wasted. People will eat it all when it tastes good, so I try to make every meal like a home-cooked meal.”
Bost visits the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies almost weekly to deposit donations that she has received.
“People support her because they know she is making a difference in the lives of those who need it,” said Barb Charney, Foundation Accounting Associate.
“We’re going into our ninth year and we never imagined that we would still be doing this,” said Bost. “We’ve had a lot of obstacles in our way, but when one window closes God opens a door.”
Each July, Bost holds a “Christmas in July Love Tree” campaign. She sits at the Galleria Mall where people can make a donation to her fund. One year, she had an unexpected visitor stop by her table.
“She told me, sobbing, ‘Last year I helped you, now this year you’re helping me,’ said Bost. “You can always tell who needs it the most because they’re the ones who are most thankful.”
Bost hopes to keep Saturday’s Kitchen going for as long as she can. She said she never imagined she would still be doing it after all these years, but loves it. Her fund receives donations and help from churches around the Johnstown community plus from those throughout the county. The money buys and prepares food for up to ten people a day.
At 73-years old, Bost said people know it’s important to give back, but it’s more important to love and help one another.
Donations to Saturday’s Kitchen can be made by clicking on feed. Bost said her organization is gearing up for its Christmas party where they will give groceries, toys, scarves, and little candies to those in need.