GARY | When Lucille Salmi spoke with relatives about celebrating her 95th birthday, she insisted that the party take place at the Bakery House in Gary, a residence for indigent men and where she has been a volunteer for the past 18 months.
And so that's where 12 friends and relatives gathered with 26 Bakery House residents and about 35 people from the Gary community who come to the home every Wednesday for Bible Study, lunch and clothing.
The Merrillville resident said the Bakery House is "where I had to be on this special day in my life. I love these people and I really enjoy serving them."
Since beginning her volunteer work, Salmi regularly brings special gifts of toiletries and other personal items to the men. And the residents love her.
When she was recently hospitalized for double pneumonia, some of the men visited her and prayed with her. She said her illness is especially dangerous for older people, but attributes the prayers and her faith to her recovery.
Salmi started as a volunteer on the invitation of her friend, Marianne Manning, assistant executive director at the Bakery House. "I was there just one hour and knew this is where I wanted to give my time and energy," Salmi added.
She was born in Kentucky into a family of four brothers, and moved with her family to the Glen Park area of Gary. Except for a few years in Washington state, where she worked for the U.S. Corps of Army Engineers to build a hospital, she has resided in Gary and Merrillville since age 6.
Salmi met her late husband, William, at a Valparaiso church and was with him for 50 years. He died at 96, and the marriage reaped two sons, Jerry and the late Bob.
The Bakery House is a 10-year-old ministry of Rebuilding the Breach Ministries Inc., managed by Lutheran Churches in Northwest Indiana. It has been serving indigent men for seven years by offering food, clothing and shelter.
The ministry also works with the Gary Community Schools to provide a GED diploma to men who do not have a high school diploma, and with Work One to provide job skill training and other resources. The Christian ministry also provides comprehensive education in God's Word as a foundation for the residents, who stay from 6 to 18 months, to learn to become productive and responsible citizens.
For information, contact Manning at firstname.lastname@example.org or (219) 663-3504