Johnstown resident Joan Bost was named a finalist in the nationwide Create the Good: Show Your Love Volunteer Contest for her service to the community.
Bost, 78, is the founder and directress of Saturday’s Kitchen and was nominated for The American Association for Retired Persons competition by her friend and fellow churchgoer, Ann Yurcisin.
“I was astounded,” Bost said about the recognition. “It was a good feeling, obviously.”
She’s been helping feed Johnstown residents on the weekends for more than a decade, and organizes a “Christmas in July” fundraiser that benefits the St. Vincent de Paul food banks, Saturday’s Kitchen, The Salvation Army and after-school backpack programs.
That service and dedication is why Yurcisin nominated her.
Yurcisin said she can only imagine that what Bost does with organizing, budgeting and distribution is “like running a small company.”
Bost was one of five finalists in the general volunteer category.
Although Bost didn’t win, she still considers placing that high an honor, as does Yurcisin.
“I think being a finalist is quite a compliment to Joan and her work,” Yurcisin said.
Bost said she didn’t think anything would ever come of the nomination because of the breadth of the event which added to her surprise at being a finalist.
Saturday’s Kitchen originated out of the need for free meals to be distributed on weekends in the Johnstown area.
A number of organizations hand out food during the week, but at the time none handled weekends.
Bost said she was inspired by an article about the situation in The Tribune-Democrat and with the help of her husband, Ron, she began working with St. Vincent de Paul in downtown Johnstown to remedy the issue.
The free meals were handed out on Saturdays for a time before Bost took over Sunday distribution as well.
“She saw a significant need in the Johnstown Community and acted on it,” Yurcisin said. “Also, doing this for 13 years shows her tirelessness, commitment and dedication.”
Bost distributes between 150 and 200 meals per day and will continue her volunteer work “until the good Lord shuts the lights out.”
“It’s a wonderful feeling to know you’re helping other people,” Bost said.
But she doesn’t reflect on her service too much because so many people need help.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the food distribution somewhat, but Bost said she and the other volunteers at Saturday’s Kitchen have adapted to the situation.
A few clientele have stopped coming around because of the disease, but in general, the need for food is starting to pick up again.
Bost said she truly appreciates all the help she regularly receives from the community, but is always in need of volunteers.
Saturday’s Kitchen is also accepting monetary contributions.