Easthampton church celebrates life with ‘Marsha’s Meals’

  • Sandra Mumblow of Easthampton, center, is served a plate of food by volunteer Barbara Laflamm, also of Easthampton, during Marsha’s Meals at the Easthampton Congregational Church. The monthly free-of-charge community meals are named in honor of Marsha Dube, founder of the program, who passed away last year. STAFF PHOTO/SARAH CROSBY

  • Easthampton Mad Red Hatters Sue Stanley, front, Gayle Beaupre, left, Virginia Hurteau, "Queen Mother" of the group, Pat Wojczyk, "Queen of Vice" and Debbie Sikes of Longmeadow, who is a friend of the late Marsha Dube, enjoy conversation at Marsha's Meals Aug. 17, 2018 at the Easthampton Congregational Church. The monthly free-of-charge community meals are named in honor of Dube, founder of the program, who passed away last year. —STAFF PHOTO/SARAH CROSBY

  • Susan Delf of the Easthampton Mad Red Hatters cuts a cake honoring the late Marsha Dube Aug. 17, 2018 during Marsha's Meals at the Easthampton Congregational Church. Marsha's Meals is a monthly free-of-charge community meal program founded by Dube at the church. —STAFF PHOTO/SARAH CROSBY

  • A photograph of the late Marsha Dube is displayed during Marsha's Meals Aug. 17, 2018, at the Easthampton Congregational Church. The monthly free-of-charge community meals are named in honor of Dube, founder of the program, who passed away last year.

  • Sue Hodnicki of the Easthampton Congregational Church's Board of Deacons, center, hugs church member Steph Kubasek of Chicopee Aug. 17, 2018 during Marsha's Meals at the Easthampton Congregational Church. The monthly free-of-charge community meals are named in honor of Marsha Dube, founder of the program, who passed away last year. Carol Miller, left, and Fran Root, both also of the Board of Deacons, look on. —STAFF PHOTO/SARAH CROSBY

Staff Writer
Published: 8/18/2018 9:17:12 AM

EASTHAMPTON — To celebrate a community tradition and honor the life of its driving force, Marsha Dube, Easthampton Congregational Church hosted a “Marsha’s Meals” barbecue on Friday, Aug. 17.

About 15 years ago, Dube established monthly meals that were open to both church members and the community at large. The dinner was known by several names over the years before being renamed in honor of Dube, who passed away in August of 2017. On average, the meals usually draw 40 to 60 people.

The barbecue attracted a full house, with approximately 70 people in attendance to enjoy the dinner and celebrate Dube’s life.

Many members of the “Mad Red Hatters,” a social organization Dube was active in, also attended, wearing red in recognition of her enthusiasm for the group.

Before dinner was served, Marsha’s friends and fellow church members addressed the audience, describing her as a dedicated, very involved member of both the church and the community.

“This is a special meal today because we’re honoring Marsha herself,” said Rev. Sherry Tucker.

“Marsha was more of a doer than a talker,” added volunteer Sue Delf, noting that Marsha remained committed to the church and the dinner even throughout her illness.

“I was struck with the enthusiasm she had, the joy she had in thinking she could come back and continue her mission,” Delf told the crowd.

Sue Hodnicki, also a volunteer and friend of Dube’s, echoed Delf’s sentiment.

“She really cared about people,” Hodnicki said to the Gazette, adding that Dube attended the dinners even within two weeks of her passing. “When you say somebody has a mission, with her it was really true… she liked to be recognized for things, but kind of in a quiet way.”

Rick Kroll, who volunteered during the dinners for several years and now regularly attends, said that the dinner serves as a welcoming space that attracts both new and familiar faces. Kroll also lent his musical talents to the barbecue, playing guitar and helping to lead a hymn.

“It’s good for the community, interacting and talking with everyone in the community,” Kroll said. “It’s an outreach too; it makes a connection a lot of times. It’s a space where you can feel comfortable and get a good meal.”

Kroll went on to describe Dube as “the sweetest, nicest person with such a good heart.”

“She just loved doing these meals, and we miss her,” he said.

The dinners typically took place each month, although they are currently being held every other month for an indefinite period of time.

With each dinner, organizers plan to carry on Dube’s legacy of providing a warm meal and friendly company.

“It’s a large impact, because there are so many people who need this one hot meal,” said volunteer and church member Janet Zmaczynski, who has been helping with the dinners for several years. “We’re welcoming here… anyone can come.”




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