Sylvia Page, 84, the honorary recipient of CICOA’s 17 millionth meal, has snow white hair, smile lines and a soft spoken manner. And a British accent, which alerts the listener that this petite woman has a story. Sure enough, when Sylvia moved here in 1955, she was homesick and wanted to be near her sister, Dorothy. Home was some 4,000 miles away in England.
Originally from London, she fled with her family when their home was bombed during World War II to Bourmeoth, a small town on England’s southern coast. In Bourmeoth, she met and married Herman, an American serviceman from Arkansas who was stationed there during the Korean War. Her sister also married an American serviceman from Indianapolis. After the war ended, Sylvia moved to the United States with her husband, but she wanted to locate in Indy to be near Dorothy, who was already living here.
Sylvia and Herman lived on the east side and reared three children. She worked in school cafeterias and the Doctor’s Dining Room at Community Hospital. Now 57 years later, Sylvia is a widow and lives with a daughter. Her other children are nearby. Dorothy now lives in Michigan and volunteers for a meal program that serves the elderly. Sylvia regularly participates in activities for older adults at the Community Alliance of the Far Eastside (CAFE).
“I needed someone to talk to, and I am so thankful to be a part of the program,” she said. “People there are great, and the staff is so nice. I feel sorry for shut-ins who can’t get out of the house to share a meal with friends. That’s so important and helps you feel better.”
At CICOA’s 17 Millionth Meal Celebration, held Nov. 13at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Sylvia received a Pacer’s autographed basketball and an offer from Jim Morris, president and CEO of Pacers Sports and Entertainment, for free tickets to any game. Although she is a Pacers fan, she doesn’t plan to take him up on the offer.
“I’m not used to people making a fuss over me and giving me things like this,” she said.
The event celebrated an important milestone in CICOA’s Meals & More program and helped raise community awareness of senior hunger issues in Central Indiana. The 39-year-old Meals & More program provides appetizing, nutritionally balanced meals to older adults and those with disabilities either in their homes or at one of more than 29 neighborhood meal sites. Each year, Meals & More provides half a million meals in Central Indiana.