One recent afternoon, we found Patrice Mikec slicing hams in the kitchen at St. Athanasius Church in West View. She was preparing for the senior lunch offered once a month at the community center there.
Every third Friday, Mikec and her volunteer helpers serve a hot lunch to about 60 senior citizens from the area. The lunches provide more than food, though. Many seniors have come to count on the event for other kinds of sustenance.
"Some of the seniors have a lot of idle time, and they have trouble socializing," said Mikec, who is coordinator at the community center.
The center occupies the space that once held St. Athanasius Catholic School. When it closed in September 2010, the parishioners rallied to save the building. For many, the community center was a good way to transition from something sad to something useful.
"To have lost the building would have been heartbreaking to all of us with children who went to school here," said Mikec, whose three grown children attended St. Athanasius through grade eight.
She has found her calling at the center, which offers a full schedule of daily activities, including piano and organ lessons in a classroom full of donated instruments.
"This is the purposeful job I'd always hoped for," said Mikec.
The community center is funded by the parish. Mikec is adding new classes and programs all the time. Those classes, along with the monthly senior lunch, are bringing a new and vibrant spirit to the building where children used to learn and play.
"If this hall were (always) filled with people, I'd be in heaven," said Mikec.