It’s almost noon and senior citizens are lined up outside the Salvation Army Mesa Citadel’s dining room. Inside, Daisy Morin is helping head chef Daryl Howard lay out the food at the serving window. Daryl motions to Daisy, who’s hearing impaired, that it’s time to greet the guests.
Daisy, who recently celebrated her 80th birthday, skitters across the floor and raises her arms to greet the first guest with a warm smile and hug. She knows everyone by name, and they know her.
“Everybody loves Daisy because she loves everybody,” said Andrew Molenaar, who’s been coming to the Salvation Army dining hall for several years with his friends. “Everybody who comes through that door - white, black, brown or green - she throws her arms around them.”
The Salvation Army senior meals program serves 35 to 65 people daily, Monday through Thursday. Daisy has been volunteering in the kitchen for the past year, working from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. all four days, helping prepare food, greeting guests, serving and cleaning up.
“I love it,” she says. “It doesn’t feel like work because everybody is so friendly. When I started I didn’t know anything and I can’t hear very well. But Daryl was very patient with me and I learned the routine.”
“She’s been the greatest thing for us,” said Howard, “and she’s been like a grandma to me. She loves to talk about the Lord and tell us stories about her chef husband.”
“Daisy teaches us that age means nothing,” said Len Virtue, a Salvation Army employee who gives the invocation before lunch. “She’s a blessing to us all, and a wonderful worker. She was out sick for a week and we all had a hard time. We visited her to let her know that we care and that she makes a difference in our lives.”
Service to others long has been an important part of Daisy’s life. In years past she volunteered at the Mesa Senior Center and supervised the children of one of the center’s drivers who delivered meals to home-bound seniors. After the woman died her son took the children in and Daisy started looking for another service opportunity.
“I’d always known about the Salvation Army and respected the work they do,” she said. “Everybody knows they help the poor, the young people, the aged, the hungry. I kept getting nudged to help. The Lord led me here.”
The Salvation Army Mesa Citadel, which conducts Sunday worship services and provides a variety of services for people of all ages, is located at 241 E. Sixth St.; call 480-962-9103. It is one of 28 local agencies that receive financial support from Mesa United Way. To read more “Faces of Need - and Hope” stories and to help, visit www.mesaunitedway.org.