What a beautiful scene it was on Saturday morning/afternoon May 12th, 2018, as the Knights of Columbus and some of their mates and grandchildren gathered at the St Joseph assisted living home in Oak Cliff for the semi-annual cook-out for the 55 residents who live there and their families. On this day before Mother’s day a strong contingency of Knights provided not only food for the residents and their families; but emotional support for all. In spite of difficult circumstance for many of the residents; everyone seemed to be happy and certainly enthusiastic – they were definitely looking forward to a meal of hamburgers, hot dogs, beans, chips, and cookies with all the fixings. Mike Fitzgerald provided the beans and cookies as usual.
David Dybala and Renaldo Estrellas manned the grilled with able assistance from Billy Callender and Doug Karpan. The burgers were soooo good. Everyone else just pitched and did whatever was needed; whether it was on the serving line or helping some of the residents fill their plates. Not a harsh word was ever spoken.
Sheila Balagna regaled us with a melody of tune on the piano while the residents and their families made their way through the serving line. The dining room was truly a happy place. Since there were many Knights in attendance, there was ample time for conversation between the Knights and with the residents as well. Those in attendance were: Larry Balagna, Sheila Balagna, Jim Russell. Allen Reitmeier, Al Evans, Jackie Evans, Keith Archer, John Balasa, Riley Via (granddaughter of Dan Murphy), Jorge Ruiz, Elvis Fajardo, Jack Ramsden, Roy Cormier, Ray Rivera, Ed O’Brien, Billy Callender, Reynaldo Estrellas, David Dybala, and Doug Karpan. Of course, the Knight who puts this all together, Dan Murphy, was also in attendance to assure that all went well – and it sure did. The residents received a tasty meal; but the Knights got a lot out of this event as well. It’s just a humbling experience to see so many dedicated men and women give of their time to bring smiles to the faces of the residents knowing that the love the Knights showed fell on open hearts. Larry Balagna summed up his feelings about the event by saying “I look forward to this every time. I enjoy talking to the residents and they are so appreciative”. First time attendee, Elvis Fajardo said “My first impression at St. Joseph’s was a great one; everyone is happy, talkative and enthusiastic. I definitely will be back and bring the family”. Ed O’Brien, who has been to many, many of these events said “It’s good to get with the guys and do something honorable as well”.
Sister Carolina Sanchez Botero, the Director of St. Joseph’s was also grateful for the time and effort of the Knights. She was also busy during the meals assuring that everyone in her care was properly taken care of; which included her carrying multiple trays of food to individual rooms to those residents who were not mobile enough to attend on their own.
Dan Murphy, Director of Community Activities summed up the day by saying: “The Knights of Columbus have been cooking for St. Joseph’s for at least 15 years. This is a great opportunity to both feed the residents and also to meet them and socialize. Since many of the residents have little contact with the outside world, this gives them a chance to talk to a caring individual who is willing to listen. St Joseph’s home is a great asset to the local community and we feel honored to help out in a small way”.