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Thank you, Toni!

On July 2, Executive Director Natalie Profant Komuro presented volunteer extraordinaire Toni Shustak with Ascencia’s inaugural Volunteer of the Month award!  “Toni truly is extraordinary in her dedication and commitment; she’s been organizing monthly dinners for residents in Ascencia’s 40-bed emergency shelter program for over 14 years.  Without volunteers like Toni, we simply would not be able to provide hot meals to our homeless clients every day!  We are sincerely appreciative,” said Natalie during the presentation at the shelter.

Below, in her own words, Toni shares how she introduced Ascencia’s Guest Chef program to St. Robert Bellarmine Parish in Burbank over a decade ago.  And how today, St. Robert Bellarmine has 6 total Guest Chef teams, including Toni’s team, each providing dinner at Ascencia every single month!

What she doesn’t mention is how she brings hundreds of hand-knit caps, mittens and scarves from her knitting/crochet group to keep our homeless clients warm during the winter, and how she and the St. Robert Bellarmine teams are always at the ready to help with emergency meals or even to help our client replace his stolen bicycle so he can get to work every day.

Thank you, Toni, from the bottom of our hearts.  You are a shining role model for all of us!

A Few Words from Volunteer of the Month Toni Shustak!

My husband Emil and I have always believed in helping those in need and when we were informed of Ascencia’s Guest Chef volunteer program to provide meals for homeless families and adults, we were ready to join and do the best we could.

While at another parish we helped on a Guest Chef team but when we came to St. Robert Bellarmine Parish, approximately twelve years ago, we were the only ones that knew about Ascencia’s Guest Chef program, so we held an information meeting and had many sign up to start a Guest Chef team from St. Robert Bellarmine.

We eventually got 6 teams and most if not all the helpers have remained.  Each team provides dinner every month at the shelter.  For example, my team serves dinner every first Wednesday of the month.  Our team has changed a little bit as people had babies, etc., but most of us have been with our team for up to 12 to 14 years.  I call them the ‘best team’ as they are all so cooperative, helpful, willing to do anything that is needed and have been faithful in helping every month if at all possible.  We have a large team, ten of us, so that enables people to have a vacation or need to take a night off because they are obliged to work.  Five on our team are still working and five of us have been retired for some time.  We are like a family, we’ve grown to know each other so well, and care about each of our team members.

Even though a few of us are close to 80 we still are very able to do this ministry and some of us have quite a few other ones.  God has been good to us, we want to give back.

-Toni Shustak

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Pictured at top: Ascencia’s Executive Director Natalie Profant Komuro and Volunteer of the Month Toni Shustak from St. Robert Bellarmine Parish.

Pictured at bottom: (from top left to right) Emil Shustak, Arline Johnston, Jim Taylor; (from bottom left to right) Toni Shustak, Anait Abraamian, Rosemary Ennis.  Guest Chef volunteers during dinner on July 2.

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