From the Desk of Matthew Dowling
P.O. Box 1702
Uniontown, PA 15401
For Immediate Release
Contact: Matthew Dowling
Pierogi Party feeds over 200 Senior Citizens and Yields 1300 Pierogis
UNIONTOWN, PA – Community volunteers and amateur chefs met today at the Uniontown Senior Center on Beeson Ave. in Uniontown) to prepare over 1,000 hand-made pierogis. Those pierogis will be used to feed over 200 local senior citizens at the Fayette County Community Action senior centers in Fairchance, Bullskin, the Mountain area, and Uniontown in the weeks to come.
Retired state representative Matthew Dowling and his wife Rebecca provided the ingredients, their recipe, and instructions to any willing volunteers. No previous skills or training were needed to participate.
“My family has always been proud of our Polish and Slovakian heritage, even though we are more ‘Heinz 57.’ Growing up we were members of Saint Joseph R.C. Church, which at the time was the ‘Polish parish’ in town,” said Dowling. “During the vaccination stage of the pandemic, we made twenty-three dozen pierogis to serve to those working the vaccination and we had such a good time we decided to do it again.”
Students from the SKILLS USA program at the Fayette County Career and Technical Institute (FCCTI) also participated in the event. Under the guidance of Chef Julia Harhai and Auto Collision Instructor Steve Forsythe, FCCTI’s SKILLS USA program provides students with an invaluable opportunity to develop their skills and gain recognition for their achievements.
“As the student’s advisors, we teach the students skills such as leadership, networking and social skills. By volunteering to help Mr. Dowling with his pierogi benefit, the students will apply these skills and this will help the students to implement and measure their career-readiness skills,” stated Forsythe.
Melany Chrash of South Union Township said, “We were excited when we heard about the Dowlings’ pierogi party. What a great opportunity to honor our Eastern European history, but also to give back to the community and have fun doing it. It seems like fewer and fewer Churches offer the traditional Lenten meal of pierogies. Our grandmas who spent so many hours volunteering in church cafeterias making these floured treasures have aged out. So, it’s only fitting that the next generation take the time to learn how to make these homemade delicacies to carry on the tradition and to share with the Senior Citizens of Fayette County. What a great way to give back to some of the very people who volunteered for years.”
“I have no idea of the origins of the pierogi, but I do know that our grandparents brought the recipes over from Czechoslovakia,” Chrash continued. “As I was growing up it was a tradition during Lent, especially in the Byzantine Catholic Church, that volunteers would work 12-14 hours during the week to make dozens and dozens of pierogies to sell on Fridays for the Church. This was a time-honored way to fund programs of the Church and it was always successful.”
Crystal Barnhart, who runs the senior center programs for the Fayette County Community Action Agency, said, “We always look for opportunities to give back to the community, so many of our senior citizens are expected to volunteer and participate in making pierogis. Even more important is this will help to feed over 200 of our senior citizens in the coming weeks. It is a win/win for our seniors in that sense.”
Some other local amateur chefs testing their pierogi pinching skills at the event included: Radio Personality Kendall Sisler and Commissioner Dave Lohr as well as many candidates for public office.
In total, Dowling says the 48 volunteers produced over 1300 pierogis in about 3 hours.
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Note: Photos and Video files can be found at: http://coordinated360.com/downloads/