GEESEYTOWN -Whiffs of roasted chicken fill the air in the hall at Juniata Valley Gospel Church in Lower Reese, Hollidaysburg, on a recent Wednesday afternoon.
The aroma is coming from the kitchen where about 10 women are laughing and talking as they prepare a meal with chicken cordon bleu as the entree.
Patricia England and Barb Horne prepare salad dressing while Sondra Lynn stirs peas and Brenda Gualdoni checks on the macaroni and cheese.
(Mirror photos by Gary M. Baranec) Debbie (left) and Wendy Gardner prepare servings for shut-ins and their families.
The women are members of Kim's Krew, an outreach of the church in honor of Kim Scott.
Scott, 58, was an active member of the church and served as its treasurer until her untimely death a year ago.
She was in the church's fellowship hall, decorating for a Christmas party on Dec. 21 when she was fatally shot by Jeffrey Lee Michael, who also took the lives of William Rhodes and his father-in-law Kenneth Lynn, during a shooting spree in the Geeseytown area. Michael was killed by state troopers.
Scott's death was the second blow that the church of about 150 members suffered in a week. Their pastor, D. David McCaulley had died Dec. 14, 2012, and was buried the day before the shootings. He served the church for 58 years and was the only shepherd/leader most of the members had known.
Current Pastor Bill Gualdoni first visited the church in March when he was being considered as a candidate for the pulpit. He said he expected to find "kind of a broken church."
He pointed out that McCaulley had married many couples and dedicated their babies.
"You don't find that kind of stability in a church," he said, referring to McCaulley's almost six-decade tenure. That loss was compounded by the tragedy that occurred on the church property a few days later.
Instead of a church that was emotionally torn, he said he found "a large measure of grace" in the congregation.
"Although people's feelings were very raw, they had a real sense of confidence in Christ," Gualdoni said. "They believe to be absent from the body is to be present with Christ. Kim died too young, but the church has hope, real hope."
He said he has served bigger and smaller churches, but never one like Juniata Valley Gospel Church, where the stability of the people's faith remains despite what they have endured.
"It is one thing to talk about it - that God is faithful, that he will take care of us - but this church has to live it. I'm part of a church that is living by faith. It's been a blessing for me and my wife."
A sign of that hope and faith that the Gualdonis have witnessed can be found in Kim's Krew.
The meals the women prepare monthly are a way for the church to bless people who no longer enjoy an active lifestyle because of health conditions or age.
It was Debbie Gardner of Lower Reese who proposed providing monthly dinners to shut-ins in Scott's memory.
Gardner and Scott were friends. Not only did they attend services in the same church, but they played cards together for more than 30 years.
"Everybody took to her as soon as they met her," Gardner said. "She had a wonderful personality. She always had a smile on her face. She was very faithful and giving to the church."
Gardner said she had been thinking about the meal ministry for awhile.
"I always wanted to do something for shut-ins," she said.
Her goal was to visit with members who no longer could attend Sunday services because of health reasons. She said those members stayed connected to the church through bulletins, but she wanted to do more. The meals provide a way to keep in touch and chat, perhaps providing a bright spot in their day, she said.
She approached the trustees about the idea and received full support.
The meals are "a way to remember Kim and celebrate her life," said trustee Pat Imler.
Providing the meals is "doing something positive," said trustee Mike Gampe. "We remember Kim and lead by her example."
They keep Kim's memory alive through something that is tangible that will impact lives. It's not like a plaque you hang on a wall," Gualdoni added.
Kim's Krew started about 10 months ago with Gardner, her sisters Patricia England and Linda Robinson and her sister-in-law Marlene Helsley preparing and delivering meals to four homes on Feb. 13. While most of the meals go to seniors or disabled people, Gardner also includes dinners for Scott's husband, her parents and the families of Rhodes and Lynn.
Since February, six more members have joined Kim's Krew with additional church members volunteering to deliver the food to about 14 homes.
Gampe said the women feed about 30 people.
"You don't have to be a member of the church to receive a meal," Gardner said.
Funds for the food come from the church, as well as donations from family and friends.
"People have been very generous," she said. "It has been well-received."
And with the meals, each family is given a remembrance card with Scott's picture.
"It's wonderful," Gardner said of the outreach. "It keeps Kim's memory alive."