Senior center volunteer honored

When Marcela Fastow starts her day she thinks about who she can help, and it is because of her charitable nature she was recently awarded Beta Sigma Phi’s Community Woman of the Year award.

Beta Sigma Phi is a social and philanthropic sorority that seeks to better the community through volunteer work. The group has three chapters in Boulder City and the award was given by the local chapter.

The Boulder City resident was selected out of eight finalists for the honor. “We are so excited to give Marcela the award,” Beta Sigma Phi member Wendy Wilson said. “We had so many qualified candidates, but she really stood out.”

Fastow received her award for charitable work at the Senior Center of Boulder City, where she organized a community food drive for its diminishing food pantry.

“When I saw the pantry at the senior center I knew I had to do something,” Fastow said. “The employees there told me they were going to shut the pantry down so I asked them if I could raise the funds.”

The center’s food pantry was in danger of closing because it lost grant money that funded its operation. Fastow got to work, quickly organizing the community through social media like Facebook and crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe, promising to match the first $1,000.

“I told the senior center that when you get $1,000 I will match it,” Fastow said. “It didn’t have to be money; if it looked like people donated that amount of food, then I would also match it.”

The community and Fastow met their goal and then some by raising more than $3,100. They raised enough money to keep the pantry stocked until it can reapply for grant money. “I never thought we would get this much food,” Fastow said. “Now we don’t have to worry about an empty pantry.”

She even helped raise extra food when she asked people to donate their Monopoly tickets from Albertsons. “It is funny how many different ways we can meet our goal,” Fastow said. “A lot of people don’t play (store-sponsored) Monopoly so I just started to ask people for their unused tickets.”

Wilson said she was amazed by Fastow’s passion for community service. “It amazes me how quickly Marcela brought this community together,” Wilson said. “That pantry was empty the first time I saw it and now it is full.”

Fastow, who is a modest person, refused to take any credit; in fact, she didn’t even want to accept the award. “The community filled this pantry, not me,” Fastow said. “When Wendy told me I won this award I didn’t even want to accept it. I don’t need acknowledgment, but Wendy told me that getting this award will bring more help for the senior center, so I agreed.” Fastow is a regular volunteer at the center where she organizes parties, DJs karaoke, and does runs for Meals on Wheels.

She said she helps the senior community because it is not as well-known as other at-need groups.

“A lot of seniors need help and people don’t know that,” Fastow said. “There are really great people at the senior center that could really use the community’s help.”

Food donations are still being accepted at the senior center, 813 Arizona St.

Contact reporter Max Lancaster at mlancaster@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9401. Follow him on Twitter @MLancasterBCR.

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