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“I do this because of my mom”

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Baking a difference at the benefit concert for Meals on Wheels

by Julie Meyer, Development Assistant, LifePath

Attendees to the annual Northfield Mount Hermon (NMH) orchestra and jazz band benefit concert know there are many reasons to attend this unique event, which supports elders receiving Meals on Wheels through LifePath. As a new staff member to LifePath, before attending this year’s event at 3 p.m. on February 19, I needed to understand why this event has been so popular.

I get that the live orchestral and jazz presentation is a draw, because they’re TEENS and they are HUGELY TALENTED. That, with the chance to support elders in a community setting, is compelling enough. But braving the cold, year after year, in the middle of Northfield? What else is going on up there to make this such a well-loved performance?

I went to find out – and I did.

MOW Walk Box NMH 1 photo Susan PodlenskiLook for Sue at the break. Ask her about her mom. And don’t forget to sample the milk chocolate coated coconut globes.Her name is Susan Podlenski, maker of top-notch homemade confectionaries.

She dispenses these sweets during intermission. Sue Rhenow, the other unsung NMH hero making this event happen, tells me it’s not just any refreshment table, but the sheer variety of the colorful forms and flavorful offerings make a substantive contribution to the success of the event.

“With her cookies, and NMH’s white table cloths in the foyer under the big windows of the Rhodes Art Center, and the really good coffee and tea, you really feel treated,” says Lisa Middents, development manager of LifePath.

I found Sue and asked her, why do you go to all this effort? “I do it for my mom,” she said. “She’s going to be 88 this year. We’ve been working with Meals on Wheels for three years since she’s slowed down a lot. She had a heart valve replaced a couple years ago. This is my payback.”

Sue is famous for trying something new every year. She wouldn’t disclose all that she’s got lined up but did let me know that she’s been working on a new Reese’s Peanut Butter Fudge recipe. I got her to tell me about how she makes layered, dipped mint Oreo Balls (which has as its secret ingredient cream cheese).

Don’t miss this year’s performance featuring violin jazz soloist senior Cate Byrne, on February 19 at 3:00 p.m. at the Rhodes Art Center in the center of the NMH campus. This new LEED gold certified building (by the Green Building Council) features a fully accessible entrance and visitor experience and a stunning 400-seat concert hall. There is no charge for the event. All donations collected at the concert will benefit the Meals on Wheels program.

For more information, contact Sue Rhenow at NMH This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 413-498-3281.

The 2017 Meals on Wheels Walkathon will take place on Saturday, April 29, at Greenfield Community College. Contact Carol Foote, development manager, at 413-773-5555 or 978-544-2259, ext. 2225, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Sign up as a sponsor or a walker or make a donation to Meals on Wheels online.

Thank you to the 2017 Meals on Wheels Walkathon $250 and up sponsors (as of January 23, 2017)!

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  • Dylan Korpita
  • Alber Hearing Services
  • The Arbors at Greenfield
  • Athol Savings Bank
  • Comprehensive Home Care
  • GVNA HealthCare, Inc.
  • Hilltown Tents
  • Interim Healthcare
  • King James Court & The Weldon House, managed by Schochet Companies
  • Northfield Mount Hermon School
  • Orange Oil Company, Inc.
  • Ramon Financial Services, LLC
  • Witty's Funeral Home