Meet Darrell Meyers
Darrell with his grandson, Craig
Darrell (R) with his grandson, Corey, and wife, Nancy

The volunteers who show up at Emmaus day in and day out create the heartbeat of the ministry. Darrell Meyers has been part of that rhythm at the soup kitchen for over two decades.

But Darrell’s commitment as a volunteer is unique. For Darrell, it is not simply about being committed to the mission of Emmaus himself; he also strives to impart that commitment to others. As a religious educator preparing high-school aged parishioners at Our Lady of Peace in Erie for the Sacrament of Confirmation, Darrell brings groups of students with him each month when he comes to the soup kitchen. It is all part of the service component of the curriculum for Confirmation.

Darrell shared the reasons for bringing the candidates to the soup kitchen: “We want the students to interface with the poor of our city, to experience the great need that exists in our community ‘face-to-face.’ We also want to introduce them to Emmaus Ministries and share with them the Emmaus story. There is a long-running relationship between Our Lady of Peace Parish and Emmaus, and we want the candidates to understand that. They begin to understand when they hear the stories of the sisters and experience the ministry for themselves.”

Since 2000, Darrell has taken the lead on maintaining this relationship with the Confirmation class at the parish, advocating for a service experience at Emmaus to be a requirement of the program. He took over from Father Mike DeMartinis, who had brought students to the soup kitchen each month before being reassigned to another parish. Now, Darrell oversees the schedule coordination of the students and adult chaperones, as well as the students’ confirmation sponsors when possible. Since the pandemic, the requirement to serve at the soup kitchen has been lifted, but some students volunteer anyway out of a personal desire.

Darrell isn’t surprised that students still want to come, even if he cannot have as many serve as he would like these days. Oftentimes when receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation, Darrell noted that students will comment to the Bishop on how strongly the experience at Emmaus impacted them. “The candidates see that the guests really appreciate that they are there for them. They take note of the guests’ contentment after enjoying their meal, as well as the fellowship that Emmaus offers.” Darrell continued, “The candidates recognize how important ongoing community service is and how places like Emmaus depend on volunteers like them to continue the work they do.”

And not only does Darrell share his commitment to Emmaus with these young parishioners, he also brings his own family into the Emmaus family. He added, “The greatest thing for me is that this ministry has become a family project. Both my grandsons have regularly served over the years. One even organized and ran three different fundraising concerts to benefit Emmaus a few years ago, raising over $3,500. Now my wife, Nancy, regularly volunteers with me, and our great nieces have started to volunteer.”

Indeed, Darrell shares and spreads a commitment to Emmaus in so many ways.

Photos: (Left) Darrell with his grandson, Craig
(Right) Darrell (R) with his grandson, Corey, and wife, Nancy