Be­gan meals on wheels pro­gram

Los Angeles Times - - OBITUARIES - By An­drea Castillo an­drea.castillo @la­times.com Twit­ter: @an­dream­castillo

In 1977, Sis­ter Alice Marie Quinn started what be­came St. Vin­cent Meals on Wheels with a sin­gle pot of stew served to 83 se­niors in a church base­ment near MacArthur Park.

On Fri­day — days af­ter cel­e­brat­ing her 82nd birth­day — Sis­ter Sam, as she was known by friends, died of nat­u­ral causes.

As ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of St. Vin­cent Meals on Wheels, Sis­ter Sam would rise ev­ery morn­ing be­fore dawn for an hour of prayer, then get to work over­see­ing the prepa­ra­tion and de­liv­ery of nearly 3,500 meals to the city’s home­less, home­bound, dis­abled and ter­mi­nally ill.

Her cause arose from ob­ser­va­tion. A reg­is­tered di­eti­tian, Sis­ter Sam no­ticed that many low-in­come, el­derly peo­ple liv­ing in apart­ments near St. Vin­cent Med­i­cal Cen­ter, where she had served as as­sis­tant di­etary di­rec­tor, weren’t eat­ing right.

“Over the years it be­came so much more than plates of food,” she once said. “It be­came friend­ship, fam­ily and nour­ish­ment for the soul.”

Now head­quar­tered in an in­dus­trial-size kitchen in the same neigh­bor­hood, the non­profit has a staff of 78 and more than 300 vol­un­teers who pre­pare, de­liver and serve hot and frozen meals, as well as weekly break­fasts, to more than 1,800 An­ge­lenos.

Chef Wolf­gang Puck or­ga­nized an ex­trav­a­gant 75th birth­day party for Sis­ter Sam. The two had been friends since the 1980s, when Puck asked her if St. Vin­cent could ben­e­fit from some of the pro­ceeds from his an­nual Amer­i­can Wine and Food Fes­ti­val. He has been a ma­jor fundraiser ever since.

At the time, Puck said no one de­served the honor more than Sis­ter Sam.

“She’s like a saint,” he told The Times in 2010. “If any­body should go to heaven, it should be her. She should sit in the first row up there. Or at the best ta­ble.”

She and St. Vin­cent re­ceived the In­ter­na­tional Food­ser­vice Man­u­fac­tur­ers Assn. Sil­ver Plate Award in 2006, for out­stand­ing achieve­ment in spe­cialty food ser­vices, and she was named “Woman of the Year” in 1988 by the state of Cal­i­for­nia. In 2013, the Los An­ge­les City Coun­cil de­clared the day be­fore Thanks­giv­ing as St. Vin­cent Meals on Wheels Day.

St. Vin­cent Meals on Wheels is a min­istry of the Daugh­ters of Char­ity, an order of nuns ded­i­cated to the poor. Sis­ter Pa­tri­cia Miguel, a fel­low Daugh­ter of Char­ity who was close to Sis­ter Sam, said she never wa­vered in her com­mit­ment to serve home­bound se­niors.

“Her life of ser­vice has in­spired ev­ery­one who knew her,” Miguel said.

The Daugh­ters of Char­ity has named the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s long­time di­rec­tor of devel­op­ment, Daryl Tw­er­dahl, as the in­terim ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor.

“Sis­ter Alice Marie men­tored us, loved us, chided us, but above all else, she taught us to serve with com­pas­sion and re­spect,” Tw­er­dahl said. “We will con­tinue her legacy with ev­ery meal served.”

The view­ing is at 5:30 p.m. Tues­day and the rosary will be held at 7. A mass and burial will be held at 10 a.m. Wed­nes­day. Ser­vices will be at St. Vin­cent de Paul Church, 621 W. Adams Blvd. Burial will be at Res­ur­rec­tion Ceme­tery, 966 Potrero Grande Drive in Rose­mead.

Alan Braus As­so­ci­ated Press

IT STARTED WITH A SIN­GLE POT OF STEW Quinn — known to her friends as Sis­ter Sam — over­saw St. Vin­cent Meals on Wheels’ daily prepa­ra­tion and de­liv­ery of 3,500 meals to the home­less, home­bound, dis­abled and ter­mi­nally ill.

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