Little Leaguer brings the plate home through Meals on Wheels

September 19, 2011|By DAN DEARTH |
  • Kerri Fotta and her son, Michael Kade Fotta, deliver Meals on Wheels Friday to Mildred Cosens in Hagerstown.
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — In baseball, 9-year-old Michael Kade Fotta plays the hot corner.

In life, he delivers hot meals.

The Sharpsburg Little League third baseman joined the Meals on Wheels program in early September with his mother, Kerri, and father, Michael, to spend some quality time helping others.

“When Michael goes up to the door, they have the biggest smile on their face,” Kerri Fotta said Friday as the family delivered hot lunches to the homes of 20 seniors. “He really warms their hearts.”

Unlike most children his age, Michael has time to deliver food on Fridays because he is homeschooled.

“He’s profoundly deaf,” Kerri Fotta said. “Things aren’t as easy for him. He doesn’t hear sounds like you and I do.”

Kerri Fotta said that thanks to cochlear implants, Michael is able to cope with his condition fairly well. His speech isn’t altered, and he can hear other people speak with relative ease.

Michael eagerly takes the food from the back of his father’s vehicle and walks it to the doors of seniors who live in and around Hagerstown’s North End.

Some people greet him with a piece of candy, while others greet him with a hug. They all greet him with kindness and gratitude.

Michael said he likes to talk about sports with a few of the football fans on his route.

“It feels good to help people,” Michael said. “I don’t want (the day) to be done.”

Elizabeth Malek, 70, said she and her husband, Thomas, enjoy Meals on Wheels because they have a hard time getting around.

“I think we’re very fortunate to get it,” Malek said. “We sure do appreciate it.”

But the food, she said, sometimes runs a close second to the companionship of caring volunteers.

“It’s nice to have someone to talk with every once in a while,” Malek said as she gave Michael a hug. “I like kids. It picks me up to see them. We appreciate this more than you know.”

Louise Bileci, 89, said she was glad when she heard last month that the Washington County Commission on Aging had returned to the volunteer delivery system. In January, the commission signed a contract with FedEx to deliver pre-packaged meals in bulk, but switched back after many of the seniors complained.

“I prefer the home-cooked meals,” Bileci said. “I’m very pleased with the service.”

The Fottas said they intend to send Michael to public school next year when he catches up with his studies.

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