Good Samaritan Center honors director

VIENNA – In her 14 years as director of the Good Samaritan Center, Sue Rhymer has seen dramatic changes in the number of people the center assists.

Rhymer, who will retire later this month, was honored with a surprise reception Thursday at Wayside United Methodist Church after the Good Samaritan Center’s monthly board meeting.

Rhymer began volunteering at the center 15 years ago after she retired from teaching nursing at West Virginia University-Parkersburg.

“I just wanted to get involved and do something to help people,” she said. “I was going to church here and knew it was here, so I asked if I could volunteer.”

Rhymer said she started working there one day a week.

“After a year, the director at the time began to have failing health and as his health failed I took on more responsibility,” she said.

Rhymer said she will be succeeded by co-directors Cathy Bauman and Barbara Peyton. Rhymer’s last day will be Jan. 31.

In the years since she began volunteering, she said she is seeing the children of the people the center helped when she started.

“It’s a cycle. When I began we averaged six or so families with food each month and helped about seven people with utilities; now we feed on average 81 each month and we help 70 people with utility bills.”

Rhymer said the food pantry portion of the Good Samaritan Center serves Vienna, College Parkway down to Lakeview, Rosemar Road and the Summit and Central areas. She said the food bank portion of the center is part of the Wood County Food Co-op which divides the county into 20 areas.

Financial assistance for prescriptions and utilities are not restricted to a service area.

Rhymer found a 1981 article about the center making 34 Christmas boxes; in 2012 they made up 160 boxes.

“I remember when we used to do the boxes we wrapped them- not now,” she said. “Wrapping paper just got too expensive, although we were able to get some bargains. Also, when the boxes were put in the trucks the paper was messed up anyway.”

Rhymer said the center began operating in 1975, a year after she and her husband became members of the church.

When she began, the Good Samaritan Center was housed in two rooms in the lower level of Wayside United Methodist Church across from the fellowship hall.

When the church expanded in 2005 with a new hall, the Good Samaritan Center got a new home in the former fellowship hall.

“When we moved in there Jim Oppe, owner of the Foodland stores, brought over shelves from his old store,” she said. “They installed the shelves and he calls it the mini grocery store.”

Another change has been in the way they distribute the food.

“At one time we just gave people a bag of food and many times they’d pick out items they said they didn’t use,” she said. “Now we ask them what they want, which means less food is wasted.”

At one time the center had a clothes closet, but that was discontinued when the space opened up and Goodwill opened a store in Vienna.