Monday, September 28, 2020

‘This must be where I’m supposed to be’

 Ed Morgan stepped up to head Mother Marianne’s West Side Kitchen nearly four years ago. After four months on the job, he decided to ask some volunteers how they thought the operation was going.

“I guess it’s alright,” Cheryl Wakeel said. “You haven’t pissed me off yet.”

Another responded by saying, “Who are you?”

Cheryl Wakeel, Ed Morgan, Darren Woods
Cheryl Wakeel, Ed Morgan, Board Chair Darren Woods.

Ed recounted that exchange during a recognition dinner for volunteers and donors, held Sept. 26 at Club Monarch – where Ed announced that Cheryl was the Fr. Richard Dellos Volunteer of the Year. Cheryl is one of those volunteers he could really rely on, noted Ed, who is retiring for health reasons. When he needed something done, he would call her and “never got a no.” 

Cheryl was a little more than surprised by the honor.

“I was absolutely shocked.”

She said she always worked with good crews, initially offering her cooking skills two days a week, and more recently every Monday. 

“Some days, it can be frustrating… but you get so much more out of volunteering, and meeting the people. I’ve made many friends among the guests.”

Her first time volunteering was nearly nine years ago, and it was a joyous occasion – Christmas Day. Cheryl came with a lot of cooking experience: For 22 years she and her husband operated Riverside Café, a restaurant on the St. Lawrence River in Clayton, NY. 

“I came back to Utica after my husband died. I went to mass at St. Joseph-St. Patrick and saw an appeal for volunteers in the church bulletin, and thought, ‘this must be where I’m supposed to be’.”