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AARP dishes up lunch for St. John's homeless

Dec. 9, 2008 – Members of the St. John AARP Chapter opened their hearts and their kitchens Tuesday to cook up a Christmas lunch for St. John's homeless people as well as few of the island's other folks about town.
"If we don't take care of each other, who does," AARP President Beverly Biziewski explained.
More than a dozen of AARP's 60 members baked a turkey and a ham, whipped up mashed potatoes, candied the yams, and put together that Christmas standby – green bean casserole with fried onion rings on the top.
"And homemade bread pudding," Biziewski said as her colleagues cut pies into wedges.
The AARP cooks did pay some attention to healthy eating, however. The milk was 2 percent, and they had a healthy alternative on the table instead of butter or margarine.
AARP member Henry Jackson, busy minding the gift table, said it was important for the community to look out for those in need.
"Not everybody is fortunate," he said.
Terry Pishko, another AARP member, said the lunch was part of the organization's efforts to help people.
Catholic Charities of the Virgin Islands serves lunch to most of the same folks every Tuesday, but Biziewski said that when the organization's members heard that Catholic Charities wasn't planning a Christmas lunch, AARP decided to do so.
"It's always good for a group to reach out and help," said Catholic Charities shelter manager Richard "Sky" Gomez.
Gomez was on hand for the event.
AARP fed about two dozen people at Nazareth Lutheran Church Hall. When they finished eating lunch they received a bag filled with toiletries and a wrapped Christmas present.
Several of the people enjoying lunch had nice things to say about AARP's efforts and their food.
"I like everything," Tomas Sanchez Castillo said.
Nicholas DiGregorio is down on his luck. After pointing out that the food was fabulous, he said he was laid off from his job on a Cruz Bay construction project about a month ago.
"I have no money and no place to stay. I can't find steady work," he said.
DiGregorio, like a few others, said he was camping out at night.
He was eating lunch with Troy Ostermeier and Roland James, who both said the food was good.
"They're wonderful cooks," Ostermeier said of the AARP members.

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