After cooking/serving enchiladas and all the fixings to 25 guests at Kathy's House (a hospital "hotel") last night, I was driving home and couldn't help but be blown away by a few thoughts. I'm going to write them out here for you (and myself to look back on) because I just really love caring for caregivers and I want something happy for you to read in this world of not-always-happy news. I am so grateful that The Right Relief is in existence. I really didn't know the impact it would have on both myself and Caregivers (from all walks of life and with so many different circumstances) when we first founded the nonprofit almost 2 1/2 years ago.
One thing that stood out to me was something so simple: leftovers. They really are another food group to me! We packaged up about 10 containers last night for Caregivers who would be returning late from the hospital or who may have wanted lunch tomorrow that wasn't cafeteria or fast food. Home cooked leftovers still beat either of those options in my opinion.
(*Side note: my Dad LOVED leftovers and passed that on to me. I keep thinking I need to do a whole post about the magic of leftovers and it's TIME!! Stay tuned!) I had just loaded up my cart of pots and pans I brought from home for cooking and was about to head out after my Relief Squad volunteers Sue and Bill. I needed to use the restroom and came back to find THREE people taking containers out of the fridge. The ones we had just packaged up. They were still warmish! I honestly don't even know if these count as leftovers since it was still dinner hour LOL. All three people were so thankful and appreciative. To know that even if they are focused on their loved one at the hospital at the time dinner is served, they can still get a meal that night. This is everything! Warm fuzzies!
Then, as I was pushing my big cart through the door a guest held it open and turns out she was also a recipient of a meal that we'd set aside per the night security desk worker. She was covered in snow and seemed tired. She was surprised. "You have a meal for me?!" So, almost half of the leftovers were "claimed" before I'd even left the building. Amazing. I am repeating myself, but it is just the best feeling knowing that we were able to provide that relief & nourishment to Caregivers. We do this every time we go, I just don't usually see the enjoyment guests have over leftovers!
My friends Leah and Jeremy had this exact "leftovers" feeling when staying at Ronald McDonald House in June of 2019 and it was a major inspiration behind founding The Right Relief Inc. See that post here. The other came from a meal my own family was gifted on a special Thanksgiving. Read the post here.
I also have a Caregiver Quote to share from the meal at Kathy's House last night that really filled me with gratitude for what we are able to do for Caregivers. She said, "It was just what the doctor ordered!" when her loved one ate our meal! To feel good enough to eat something nutritious really is exactly what doctor's want for their patients. I show love often through cooking food for my family (or Caregivers!). If I was the hospital with one of them and couldn't I'd feel helpless. The Right Relief is the next best thing!
There was a guest there last night that I'd seen at our meal in December. She had been cooking on her own in the kitchen while we prepped that night's dinner. What a great thing to have access to: a kitchen to cook in when you feel like you're missing the comforts of your own home. She was making a cauliflower dish and we talked a bit about it as the Mealy's have been trying more with this ingredient. Fast forward to last night and I had cauliflower taco rice on the menu as a side dish with the enchiladas. I figured it would be a healthier option and something different for guests to try (I've been surprised by their willingness to try other veggies I've made) and I honestly had remembered the conversation with the guest from December. She stopped in again and I told her about the rice and she was very excited. Turns out, she had just flown back to Milwaukee that morning as her husband continues to have medical needs. It was a stark reminder of the length of time many Caregivers are performing their duties. I was so glad that after a busy travel day AND the stress of being back at the hospital that our cauliflower rice could bring a smile. What a funny world.
I was filled with gratitude last night after all these experiences. I'm grateful for my parents for being the kind of people/neighbors who bring meals to those in need. I'm grateful for my sister because she has caregiving and so much strength in her bones. I'm grateful for my husband for coming home early from work so I could be reminded yet again of how awesome my job is. I'm grateful for places like Kathy's House. I'm grateful for my Relief Squad volunteers, board members and social media communities. I know it is often said that if you have a job you love, it won't seem like work. I truly feel this way about The Right Relief. It's cooking. It's showing compassion and relating to those who've been in somewhat of similar situations to mine. It's such fulfilling work and for that, I'm the most grateful!