Sometimes the rough times help to guide us to the best and blessed times in our lives. So is the case with Cyndee Bono.
The four Kowal children grew up in a close-knit community around the 200 block of Buchanan Street in Phoenixville. Cyndee was the youngest. Paul was the oldest with Julie and Rose sandwiched in-between.
When it was time for Cyndee to enter high school, she wanted to go to St. Pius X in Pottstown. As the family could not afford the tuition, she went to work at the Phoenix Manor (along with going to school) to pay the tuition herself.
While a senior in high school, she married. Her baby daughter lived an hour-and-a-half before going to heaven. With the support of her school and friends, she was able to graduate from high school she worked so hard to achieve.
After the birth of her son, David, she continued to work. He went to live with his father’s family until he was about 10. Cyndee believes she may have been the first mother in the county who paid child support.
As the years passed by, she met Tony Bono. They dated for five or six years until they married in 1987 in a most unusual ceremony. They were one of 100 couples married on Valentine’s Day in Elkton, Md.
Today, they live on the northside of town with a menagerie of dogs. Anywhere from four to seven dogs, along with breeding of Rottweilers at times.
Tony is a popular school bus driver known as "Mr. Tony" to the kids. Along the way, Cyndee became a caregiver to her family, her church, her community.
She started and is the sole owner and operator of Cyndee Bono’s House Keeping. She services individual homes and commercial businesses. She treats them all as family.
She cares for her church — St. Peter & Paul’s Ukrainian Church on Fairview Street — as a mother would her child. She seems to be the mecca of the church. As well as keeping it clean, she fundraises with a Ukrainian Heritage Festival for the last seven years. Each year, it keeps growing, drawing people near and far. There is a bi-monthly Thrift Shop located on the church property. She acts as a cantor for services celebrated in English.
It is her faith that keeps her strong.
About 10 years ago, her brother gave her their mother’s outdoor Virgin Mary statue from the Buchanan Street property. Paul still lives there. It looked nice in her yard. It was not until he gave her the pedestal that the statue sat on all those years that Mary’s Bounty was born.
It seems a bird or birds dropped tomato seeds near the statue, which has grown into a massive vine, producing thousands upon thousands of cherry tomatoes each season. Each week, Cyndee shares bags of Mary’s Bounty at church and with family and friends.
I was fortunate to receive a bag of these sweet candy-like tomatoes when we met for this interview.
Cyndee loves to cook and Tony loves to eat. You can show up at dinnertime and there will always be enough food to go around.
FILLED CABBAGE ONE-POT CASSEROLE
Healthy Working Girl’s Recipe
2 to 3 lbs. ground meat of choice.
½ lb. bacon
2 medium onions – chopped
32 oz. tomato or V-8 juice
2 cans tomato soup + 2 cans water
1 to 2 heads of cabbage – chopped
2 to 3 cups Minute Rice (white or brown)
salt & pepper to taste
hot sauce to taste – optional
other seasonings to your taste
Brown meat in a large pot, drain liquid. Brown bacon with chopped onions. Add juice, tomato soup & water. Chopped cabbage to fork size (not shredded) — add cabbage to pot & cook until cabbage is tender. Bring the pot to a boil add seasonings cook for 5 to 6 minutes — add Minute Rice. Remove from heat & allow to stand until liquid is absorbed. Stir through so everything is evenly combined.
Contract columnist Bette at banjack303.verizon.net. Search YouTube – with BetteBanjack as well as phoenixvillenews.com (search bar Banjack). She can be found on Facebook. Her book “2 Cups of Yesterday” can be found at the Gateway Pharmacy or by contacting her directly.