Everyday Heroes

Baking Cookies for the Community

What is a hero to you? You may think of someone who saves lives or donates thousands of dollars to charity, but heroes also do things like volunteer at the local food pantry, pick up litter, or, like Sister Tina, Sister Marian, and Joyce Frenz, bake and collect cookies for community members.

In January, the Chamber announced the Citizen of the Year, Lisa Winger, and will continue to share more about Lisa and her work in the community over the next two months. Rather than naming a Business and Partner of the Year, the Chamber is recognizing Venango Heroes—individuals, organizations, and businesses throughout the community who perform deeds large and small, improving the lives of others.

Pictured here are three of those nominated as Venango Heroes. Sister Tina and Sister Marian of Catholic Rural Ministries were among the first Venango Hero nominees.

They share a simple yet profound ministry—to bring “Hope and God’s Compassionate Presence” to everyone they encounter. Among their most recent efforts is gathering cookies for community meals that are served every other Tuesday at Zion Lutheran Church in Oil City.

Pictured with them is Joyce Frenz, Director of Community Ministry Mission and Outreach at Good Hope – Zion Lutheran Ministries. The community meals serve on average 300 people each week.

When Sister Tina and Sister Marian learned that donations of cookies were needed, they sent out the invitation for donations to be dropped off on their porch, with no idea how far reaching this cookie brigade would expand.

They now have people making deliveries from neighboring counties and have come to realize that these donations are as important to those baking and delivering the cookies as they are to those eating them. The sisters humbly describe their efforts as simply “being connectors.”

They also understood that many people, especially senior citizens, were quickly becoming isolated during the pandemic. They began convening book studies, using the Chamber’s Zoom account, to bring people together to learn about one another and to have important discussions about things going on in our world. Among the books that they have been reading are those dealing with aging and racial inequity.

In their work at Catholic Rural Ministries, Sister Tina reminds us that simple conversations foster connection. We must listen carefully to each other to understand wants, needs, and information that should be shared. Something as simple as baking cookies or as important as understanding that children need to be in safe, warm, and dry homes, become heroic acts in the life of hurting individuals, once people move to action.

Each and every one of the Venango Hero nominees are making a difference in the lives of individuals in our community.

We know that there are many others who deserve to be recognized and we urge you to visit our website at and share with us those who you observe making a difference each day.

This article was published in the Venango Chamber’s February 2021 VenangoWorks! Newsletter.

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