Over 5 million served.

Jason Werling
Mar 23, 2010

We recently did a story on the Erie County Senior Center in downtown Sandusky and I had the opportunity to meet Iola Palmerson. Iola is the ping-pong champion of her age group in Erie County. I don't know that officially, but she is the only woman over 80 that I have seen play ping-pong the way that Iola does. She's ruthless. Her doubles partners while I was there were Marcell Leysens, 85, and Ed Childress, 75. Let's just say that me trying to play at their level in table tennis would be like taking a knife to a gun fight.

Another person I met while at the senior center was Gene Fitzthum. Gene's job is slammin'. No really, he is the "official" slammer of the Meals on Wheels program run through the center. Gene calls himself the Head Lid Slammer and estimates he has slammed the lid on over 5 million meals in his 19 years at the Erie County Senior Center. Gene works three days a week with the Meals on Wheels program. That's a lot of slammin'.

I was able to talk to Meals on Wheels Food Service Director Sally Tommas at the senior center for a couple minutes and she mentioned that they are always looking for volunteer drivers for the program. And with the down turn in the economy and what kind of winter we may be expecting I can see how the need could be greater this year. If you are getting that little feeling right now from reading this that you may be able to help out, give Sally a call at  (419)626-2560. It only takes an hour of your day and you can pick the day(s) you can drive.


Register photo/JASON WERLING Gene Fitzthum slams one of the 5 million dinners for Meal on Wheels last Monday at the Erie County Senior Center. Fitzthum has worked at the center for 19 years.


Register photo/JASON WERLING Iola Palmerson, 87, plays ping pong with Marcell Leysens, 85, as her partner earlier this week at the Erie County Senior Center.


Register photo/JASON WERLING Iola Palmerson, 87, smiles in between ping pong games at the Erie County Senior Center.