Warming Hearts with Soup for the Soul
Posted by Amy O'Donnell
It’s pretty much a fact that bitterly cold winter days are made infinitely better by a bowl of soup, a warm blanket and a game of cards. JourneyCare’s third annual Soup & Stories volunteer service project, which takes place over the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday weekend, exists to provide these very items to hospice patients and their families.
It definitely takes a village to pull off a project like this. Here’s what was accomplished in just a few short days:
· 70 volunteers braved the cold weather to deliver care packages to 175 patients and families from January 16-18
· 10 volunteers worked with an address list to do route mapping to 56 different communities (from Zion to Oak Lawn and Deerfield to Gilberts)
· 25 “Junior” volunteers made about 50 no-sew fleece blankets
· A few hundred blankets were collected by The EMS Roaddocs Riding Club from Wisconsin and Northern Illinois
· Two volunteers helped with a mailing to patients and printed maps for deliveries, and four volunteers helped make phone calls to remind patients about this care package
Each care package included a 32 oz. container of soup from ZaZa’s Tavola Italiano in Lake Barrington (owned and operated by JourneyCare volunteer Paula Voska), a fleece blanket, a JourneyCare deck of playing cards and an instruction sheet to help families share stories.
For instance...if you pull the 9 of Diamonds, you need to respond to the question, “Have you ever met someone famous?” If you pull the Ace of Hearts, you “Talk about an encounter you had with a wild animal.” These kinds of questions get to the heart of this project...creating an opportunity for families to connect and share stories.
The JourneyCare Juniors (4-8th grade students) and our Youth Advisory Board were truly instrumental in this project’s success. An amazing number of the volunteers who helped make the nearly 175 deliveries possible are some of our youngest (and most dedicated!) volunteers.
What makes Soup & Stories unique—beyond providing an extra touch to help enrich the lives of those we care for—is that it offers an opportunity for our youth volunteers to contribute to a project that truly impacts our mission while meeting the people who benefit from it.
“It was so fun delivering the blankets and soup to the different people and seeing their reaction to it. I thought it was a great way to help the community out and to do a good deed for someone.” – Courtney, 4th grade, who made four deliveries to patients in Mount Prospect
“I had an especially enjoyable visit with Mary and her daughter Karen. Karen has two pugs and I'm SUCH a pug person, so that was a great ice breaker. They invited me in and I visited with Mary for a short while. Her favorite color is blue and, coincidentally, that was the color of the blanket I delivered!” – Noel, who made four deliveries to patients in McHenry County
“One man was moved to tears—he was so happy to receive his package. He was waiting for me outside when I arrived. Another gentleman received the soup and blanket for his wife. He invited me in and told me several times how wonderful this was. I chatted with him and his wife's caregiver for a few minutes. I made four deliveries and each one thanked me for coming out on such a cold day. Each one expressed how nice the blanket was. Seeing the smiles and talking to the families for a few minutes took a lot of the chill off the day for me.” – Pauleen, who made four deliveries to patients in Woodstock
I must say, one of the most remarkable things about this year’s Soup & Stories project is that we were able to help one of our patients celebrate her birthday for the second year in a row with a Soup & Stories care package. This year, she turned 107!
It’s just so incredible to know that the amazing care and support provided by our JourneyCare teams has made it possible for this patient to enjoy more great days of comfort and good times with her family. And we’re doing this for thousands of people every day.