faithful Seventh-day Adventist housekeeper is the reason
U.S. actor Dustin Hoffman decided to donate $12,000 in commercial kitchen
equipment to an Adventist church.
Hoffman, winner of two Academy Awards for best actor, surprised
members of the Pocono Grace SDA Church in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania a few
weeks ago when he offered them a refrigerator, freezer and cooking stove from
his New York apartment.
The 76-year-old actor made the offer because of his family’s
warm relationship with Lucy Ascencio, a Pocono Grace church member who works
for him as a housekeeper and cook, said Don Baker, the church’s head elder.
“She had worked for them for a number of years and,
according to a representative of the family whom we communicated with, they are
very fond of her and appreciated the work she did for them,” Baker said.
The Hoffmans were gutting the entire kitchen and were happy
to donate their Subzero refrigerator and freezer, as well as their Viking
range, he said. The church members only needed to arrange for a truck and
crew to drive into Manhattan to pick them up.
“Needless to say, we were very excited about the opportunity
to have such a valuable gift for our kitchen,” Baker said.
Ascencio was not immediately available for an interview.
Several men from the Pocono Grace church volunteered to take
a day off work to help pick up, transport, and unload the equipment back at the
church. Baker contacted the owner of a truck rental company whom he had met
years earlier at a former job.
“When I called him and told him what I needed the truck
for, he gave me a good deal on the rental as well as some great advice as
to the type of truck I would need for such large equipment,” Baker said.
Arrangements were made with the Hoffmans to pick up the
equipment well before sundown on a Friday. Dustin Hoffman has told U.S. media
that he grew up in an unreligious home but now worships at a synagogue and celebrates
all Jewish holidays, thanks in part to the convictions of his wife, Lisa
Gottsegen. The couple, who wed in 1980, have four children, while Hoffman has
two more children from a previous marriage.
The Adventist movers didn’t see Dustin Hoffman on the
Friday, but Baker said they did see God’s blessings as they tackled the
In his words, here’s what happened:
“As the day unfolded, we had multiple delays in our
departure, which worried us. It became apparent that we would likely be caught
in rush-hour traffic on a Friday, which can be a huge challenge. Also, it
is very hard to find parking space for a car in New York City, and parking a
truck is even more difficult.
“But the Lord had it all under control!
“We arrived to the apartment building at about 5 p.m. A
construction crew located across the street from where we needed to load up had
just vacated their spot, so we were able to park there for one hour as we
loaded the appliances.
“Then, just as we were getting ready to leave, the building
supervisor showed up. Apparently we were in his parking spot. But
since we were finishing up, he was able to pull in just as we were pulling
“We were able to get in and out of the city and back to our church in about six
hours — and on a Friday. That is very, very good time. We were able to
get everything unloaded at the church before sundown.
“God's timing was perfect the entire day, even though we had
our doubts at times!”
The cost for the rental truck, toll roads and gas to make
the 70-mile (110-kilometer) trip amounted to $300.
The refrigerator, freezer and stove are now installed in the
church’s kitchen and are being used for Sabbath fellowship meals, where guests
dine with church members after worship services. The kitchen also provides
meals to more than 70 children participating in a church summer outreach
program called Cool Camp.
Meanwhile, the Pocono Grace church has started a kitchen
remodeling of its own.
“Once our kitchen remodel is complete — we still have a lot
of work to do — we will be looking for other ways we can bless our community
through our kitchen,” Baker said.
Review news editor Andrew McChesney at [email protected]. Twitter:
Earlier Adventist Review article: “U.S. Actor Dustin Hoffman Donates to Adventist Church”
Columbia Union Visitor article: "Dustin Hoffman Donates Kitchen Equipment to Pennsylvania Church"