Warren Hollertz, a local pastor with over 50 years invested in the area, is set to soon leave the area for a retirement community in Allison Park located outside of Pittsburgh to the north.
A mainstay and community leader throughout his half-century tenure in the area, Hollertz enjoyed an hour-long meeting Monday morning at Joey's Bakery alongside fellow volunteers who keep the Ridgway Meals on Wheels program turning through the years. The popular pastor was not at a loss for words when describing his love for the program, volunteerism, and the area itself.
"My main love in life, I feel, is to try to love other people and do for other people, and to get people to start doing for other people," Hollertz said. "Sometimes we don't see too much of that and I'll suggest to people about growth in their Christianity and such, and they'll tell me 'We don't know what to do,' then I suggest that they go looking.
"There is that person in every block that needs help of some particular kind and they're not going to make themselves know-- you have to look and you have to follow it through."
When discussing volunteerism and the concept of helping others, the pastor recalled a particular instance where he received a phone call at 1:10 a.m. on a cold winter night from a gentleman at a local bar.
"He said 'I'm sitting here with a lot of your friends.' I asked him if I knew him and he said 'No, you don't know me, but your friends are down here and they told me about you and that you would help me,'" Hollertz said. "He asked if I'd come down and help him, and I said 'Of course.' I got dressed and brushed my teeth and do what you do, and I went down there and stayed with him for maybe 45 minutes or so. We sat in the corner and talked and visited, and he talked to me and I made some suggestions and so on. Eventually, I told him I had a meeting early the next morning and I had to go home, but I asked him 'Can I do something more for you?'
"But his remark said 'Do something more for me? Look what you did: you got out of a warm bed at 1:10 a.m.-- how many people would do that?-- and come down here, I'll never forget this as long as I live and I'm going to try to change my life because of what was done here.' There are things like this but we have to look for them."
For Hollertz, this one example of helping a stranger represents what he looks for in life and how he feels about the Meals on Wheels program.
He also discussed his time spent as pastor of the Bethlehem Lutheran Church and later the Nazareth Evangelical Lutheran Church.
"It was very difficult for me to leave my ministry at Bethlehem Lutheran Church after having been there 34 years, that was a tough situation, and now again in my little church over in Wilcox where I've been since 1994," Hollertz said. "When I stepped in there, there were four other pastors who could step in and take over but now there is no one. They can't afford a pastor and they're having a real tough time, but I've fallen in love with them and them with me, and this coming Sunday is my last Sunday over there.
"Can you imagine what kind of a day that is? They're going to make it a celebration and I've seen pastors who plan to shake hands with everyone on their last day and they can't do it, they turn around and walk out the back door, and it's not a very easy situation."
Pick up a copy of the Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2011 edition of The Ridgway Record for more.