Mothers and their meatball fundraiser

June 2024

I am writing this on Mothers Day. Spring is about renewal and things are beginning to grow.

I don’t usually do any gardening until late May, and even then, I am relegated to the repetitive work of bringing them in the garage, taking them out of the garage, bringing them in the garage. You know the drill. This happens until after the new moon, something that my father constantly reminded me of and yet I never saw him refer to a calendar or almanac. I guess it is a feeling that I did not inherit.

And of course, May is about mothers. Recently I had the benefit of witnessing a group of mothers at their best.

A few times per year, these ladies get together and volunteer for their church by making meatballs for sale. So popular is this fundraiser, there is a waiting list and often those that purchase in the spring may not get any in the fall so that all could receive orders at least once or twice per year.

I agreed to volunteer this time as a number of the regulars were not able to make it. Since my family is well entrenched in the administration of the preparation and sale, and since my mother was one of the ones who could not be there that day, I thought it would be prudent that I represent.

Now all mothers are pretty significant in their own right, but Italian mothers are a special breed, at least to me since I am one. I mean when we volunteer, we are expected to arrive on time, listen carefully to instruction, do our job and then eat after the work is done.

My friend, who volunteered for the first time, thought the eating part was the best thing ever and has since signed up to be there again.

The first break is for coffee and consists of quiche, pastries and fruit. After a few hours, and nearing the end of our work, lunch is served. Lasagna, salad, bread, pastries and even ice cream for dessert. Most days I don’t eat this much but true to my heritage, I ate and was thankful for the food on my overflowing plate.

This particular morning, I walked in a little late as all the ladies were already at the tables working. I forgot that on time in Italian means you are early.

As their hair net donned heads looked up to see who it was at the entrance, I averted my eyes and went to business. In other words, I swooped in, a little anxious and perhaps out of breath, went to the instruction board (oh yes there is one) and took off my orange coat (hardly cloaked), put on a hair net, donned my apron, washed my hands in the sink clearly marked as such, put on my latex gloves and took position.

As a novice, I was given the job of a roller. This followed the scoopers who designated sizing, the mixers (done the night before and put in ready bins), the deliverers or check point number 3 as I named them, who took our bounty and delivered them to the fryers. Of course, once fried and cooled, there were the packagers with names adhered to bags ready for pick up. And pick up they did. (this table also had free samples; a marketing tactic I was impressed by).

Amazon holds nothing on this crew. They should be so lucky as to have such a dedicated group of workers that, in one day, produced and sold, 13,000 meatballs.

These women did their work while talking about their lives, their children, and of course, their gardens. In the Italian mother way, novices were advised when rolling was not up to snuff, or when stacking them in the plate was not allowed. You can imagine how often I was instructed to do things better. Those who know me would wonder how I acquiesced to the criticism, but in this world, I really know my place. Those who know, understand the look only an Italian mother can give.

I wondered what would happen when many of these women are no longer able to do the work. Like many organizations, this group shares the need to recruit new volunteers to continue to support their activities.

I have been fortunate enough to recruit some of my friends, and frequent buyers, to give some time to this project. We are retired and still able, and thankfully due to the latter part of the baby-boom era, we are still fairly numerous.

Interestingly, most of the more senior women in this room do not purchase meatballs. They still make their own at home.

A salute to these mothers, and all of us who dedicate time, and sometimes skill, to volunteer efforts! Have a wonderful summer.

Sue Prodaniuk is a marketing, advertising and communications consultant. She can be reached at

Zircon - This is a contributing Drupal Theme
Design by WeebPal.