Members of the Chef’s Silver and Gold Association visit Buffalo Valley Lutheran Village.

Dedicated retirees conclude quarter-century of service

Lewisburg, Pennsylvania    Monday, January 6, 2020

On the surface, there may not seem to be a connection between Christmas and SpaghettiOs®, but for the past quarter-century the two have in a sense gotten the holiday spirit cooking at Buffalo Valley Lutheran Village in Lewisburg.

This Christmas season just ended, in fact, marked the 25th and final year members of the Chef’s Silver and Gold Association, composed of current and retired Chef Boyardee employees, made a festive Christmas visit to the Diakon senior living community. Currently owned by ConAgra Foods, the Chef Boyardee company was founded in nearby Milton in 1938.

Ken Fisher Jr. began working for the company in 1969 when it was known as American Home Products; he retired in 2010. Chef’s Silver and Gold began, he says, “because we wanted to help our retirees if they didn’t have immediate family around.” Members would take retirees shopping, to the grocery store or occasionally to doctors’ appointments. They were not there to provide emergency services but to help out. The group subsequently expanded its mission to visit five area senior living communities to spread Christmas cheer.

A group of about 18 members visited Buffalo Valley Lutheran Village’s health care center in early December, visiting each room and providing each resident with a small gift. “The residents really appreciate it,” says Fisher. “I tell members to go one time and you’ll see [how visits are] like a million dollars.”

“Our visits have made a lot of people happy ...”

Some “nursing care residents are transformed back to when they were young and saw Santa Claus,” says Charlene Fisher, the village personal care administrator. The group had discontinued its practice of taking photographs with each resident because of health-care privacy regulations.

“When we started our visits 25 years ago, we’d get there at 8:45 a.m. and not leave until 7 p.m. It was a very long day,” says Fisher with a laugh. After three years, the group began two sets of Santa Claus and his wife to make the visit more manageable. No matter the time involved, he adds, the event has always been worthwhile because “it has made a lot of people happy.”

At one time, the group had more than 500 members, but that number has shrunk to 112 as a result of deaths, age or the demands on time for younger potential members. That decrease, along with financial constraints, made 2019 the last year for the holiday visitations. 

A few members may continue some activities, Fisher says, such as visiting at Easter, previously a regular activity. Other events in which the group has participated include the Milton Harvest Festival and the Union County Veterans 4th of July parades; it also has assisted with local bloodmobile visits.

“We deeply appreciate the difference all of these local people have made at the village the last 25 years. We cannot thank them enough,” says Bob Musser, village senior executive director. 

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