In honor of my 35th birthday and the end of 2022/start of 2023/reflection time of the year, I'm putting together 35 things I've learned/observed while running a nonprofit and nearly completing a 10 year goal in about 3.5 years.
In no particular order... and some may be less profound than others bear with me...
There are so many kind people in this world. Seriously. I can't tell you how many people I've met who just go out of their way to be kind. They give thanks often. They take the time to send a quick note. They help others through donations, time out of their days and emotional support. I am beyond lucky to have expanded my "circle" to include these thoughtful and giving humans.
NOT new learning but the point needs to made and shouted from the rooftops: Aldi's is the best grocery store hands down. I LOVE that place. Something my Dad would be tickled by because he LOVED it too.
So many people (more than you think) have connections to caregivers or have been a caregiver themselves.
Caregivers come in all shapes and sizes... or I guess genders, ages, familial backgrounds and the majority don't have previous medical experience. Hats off. I'll say it again (and then hopefully not again in the next 30 some points)... Seriously. Hats off to all Caregivers out there. It's not for the faint of heart.
Always wear an apron. Preferably a Right Relief Apron. Kyle found this out the hard way on Thanksgiving hehe.
Caregivers often don't accept a meal. I knew this was going to be an "issue" but not to the extent it is. This "job" takes a lot of gentle poking and prodding and reminding and once in awhile we will get a yes. I mean this in the nicest way...but Caregivers are a lot like red heads... stubborn!
Goals are meant to be crushed. Little did I know in 2019 how quickly we'd reach 5,475 meals.
Caregivers will always take a cookie. Not surprising but still makes me smile when I walk around with a tray of them at Kathy's House/RMH and they disappear.
This goes hand in hand with "kind people." There are so many generous people in the world. Strangers who know nothing about the Right Relief have donated. Family & friends continue to support time and time again. Facebook friends/followers. Caregivers give back. Corporate businesses donate. Girl scouts. Student Council groups. Social workers. We've even gotten a donation from as far as New Zealand!
The Pampered Chef trifle bowl holds approximately 5,475 elbow macaroni noodles. Not that I have been counting ;)
Lasagna with pepperonis is just better. I pretty much 100% already knew this going in but many meal recipients have confirmed. This is all thanks to my Dad who snuck in layers between sauce and noodles while cooking for my high school cross country team prior to races. He has been the inspiration behind many Right Relief Recipes.
My pineapple cutting skills have improved dramatically. I also learned that you aren't supposed to eat the core/center of a pineapple. *hand over face emoji*
Whoever invented the Meal Train site is my hero. All important info right in one nice little link. If you are ever setting up meals for someone, use Meal Train. The volunteers who sign up to cook will thank you greatly.
I'm close to remembering the difference between Muskego and Mukwonago hehe
Canva is amazing. If you don't know about this site go there now! A ton of it is free and makes Facebook posting fun/easy.
Pancakes from scratch are just so much better.
Tomato sauce and crushed tomatoes are not the same thing. Made that mistake when ordering a CASE of sauce thinking it was crushed. Again insert hand over face emoji.
Always buy at least 2 of everything. This will avoid a second trip to the store in 2 days when another meal gets scheduled :)
It is harder than you realize to see address numbers on houses in the dark. I was especially shocked this November when the time changed and I had a meal drop off scheduled at my regular pre-dinner hour. Arrived on the street and ended up driving up and down several times trying to locate the numbers LOL.
The order is: noodles - sauce - pepperonis - ricotta - mozzarella - parm. Had to look this up for about the first 15 lasagnas I made back in 2019!
Covid stunk. It stunk doubly for Caregivers. It kept siblings and obviously families apart; not to mention the danger/risk it put on patients.
Fruit kabob sticks are pretty pokey.
There is something about brightly colored fruit/veggies that make peoples' jaws drop. They just create this beautiful, fresh, edible masterpiece.
If frozen lasagna sauce or chicken is not in the fridge the night before a meal, it's not going to be thawed in time.
If the rose gold spray paint is out...do at least a half a box of noodles. They go quick thanks to Right Relief Boston!
If there is a sale on shredded cheese, jump on it.
"Paying it forward" is a real thing. It keeps us in business and allows for Caregivers to support other Caregivers. Talk about "kind people..."
Naming appliances/cooking tools is a must. We've got a whole fleet at this point!
I've seen an addition to Ronald McDonald House AND a completely new building built for Kathy's House in the last 3 years. There is a reason for both and it is a NEED in the medical world. A NEED for Caregivers to have a place to call home at the end of the day. There is such a need and it is only increasing.
Making scrambled eggs for over 20 Caregivers is A LOT of egg cracking!
I LOVE my KitchenAid mixer. Probably most used appliance besides pots and pans. As wonderful as she is, mixing over 4 cups of flour even in small batches is just too much. Get yourself a husband instead who will just muscle that dough into something useable.
Not all pizza pans are created equal. We make pizzas BIG and have found not many pans can accommodate.
Pampered Chef cookie sheets are the best. Nonstick. No spray needed. So easy to clean. I've got 4 and would take 4 more ;)
Froedtert is spelled with that extra T. I'm pretty sure I've been spelling it wrong for about two years oops! All joking aside, man is Milwaukee lucky to have it as well as Children's. What a complex. Delivering a meal there is a bit tricky because of how big it is but I would do it everyday if possible. It's an awesome facility, but still not where Caregivers want to be and if a walk down to the main entrance to pick up a warm belly hug can brighten their day, awesome.
Strength. Was going to find a quote about this but...there's just not the words to describe the powerfulness of this word. Caregivers just have it. Period. I knew this because I witnessed it first hand with my mom and sister. They both kept working/going to school while caring for my Dad. I've experienced it twice caring for newborns. My Aunt and Uncle spent years checking in on and later caring for my Grandparents before moving to a nursing home. I've read countless Facebook posts and Caring Bridge entries describing the mental exhaustion. Caregivers are strong because they have to be. They usually don't "sign up" to do this job. I don't know if this qualifies as a "quote" but I do want to include this one in closing. It's from Dwight. From the Office :)
"I'm ready to face any challenges that might be foolish enough to face me."
Basically, don't mess with Caregivers.