This is how your fears will be met with more than just our food

To: future meal recipient

From: Amanda (As told to Lauren Brill)

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Dear future meal recipient,

You may have just received the most terrible news of your life. It’s not easy to hear. I know.

When I was in high school, doctors diagnosed my grandfather with Lou Gehrig’s’ disease.

He ended up in a wheelchair fairly quickly because it started in his feet, leaving my grandmother to care for him.  As his body broke down, his mind remained sharp. But he didn’t let that stop him from caring for people, regardless of whether or not he knew them. Like he always did, he continued to ask people two questions.

The first question was, “What do you need?”

Amanda was inspired by her loving grandfather.

My grandfather was generous and always wanted to help however he could.

The second question was, “If you died tonight, where would you want to spend eternity?

My grandfather also wanted to guide people.

I can quickly respond to the second question, as I know, I will spend eternity in heaven. But that first question isn’t always easy for me to answer.

I didn’t know it then, but my grandfather, in part, was laying the groundwork not only for my life’s work but the relationship I, or someone I work with, will develop with you.

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In 2017, my husband, Daniel, a chef, and I decided to start a non-profit called Compassion Delivered. We make healthy meals for free for people in Stark County, Ohio who are facing life-threatening or terminal illnesses .

Our very first meal recipient was a former realtor in our community. She was battling a brain tumor. On one Friday, as I delivered meals to her, I sat down next to her to talk, like we did each week. She told me I looked tired, but I insisted I was fine.

She said to me, “I want you to know, we’re proud of you. And just don’t give up.”

There she was fighting for her life, and yet she took the time to encourage me to live mine. That was the moment I knew our community needed the services Compassion Delivered offers. That’s when I knew what we were doing was meaningful to the people we serve.

There she was fighting for her life, and yet she took the time to encourage me to live mine.

Soon, you will join our program. Every week, we will bring you healthy, restaurant-style meals, homemade soups, a breakfast bag and additional food items for you to enjoy. You will have plenty of options.

With all the stress you and your loved ones have going on in your lives, we will make sure food isn’t one of them.  By providing your meals, we hope to help you make more time for your loved ones, more time to make memories and more time to rest and recover from treatments.

However, as your fears develop and your mind wanders about what’s to come, I want you to know that we will nourish you with so much more than protein and produce.

Amanda develops close bonds with the people she helps.

We will be there to laugh with you, to cry with you and to be angry with you. You will be able to be real with us and talk to us about your lives, your fears, your family and your illness. We want you to know you are not in this alone. And we won’t just be there for you. We will be there for your family as well.

When we bring over meals, we will stay for a little, talk to you and make sure you are doing well. Currently, there are some restrictions because of COVID-19, but even if that remains, we will still communicate with you from a safe distance. Whether it be talking from six feet away, phone calls or writing letters, we will always be available and accessible to you.

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ou don’t know it yet, but we will be there for you during some of the most vulnerable moments. And I feel blessed and humbled that you will allow us to do so.

Right now, as you get your diagnosis, or as you go home and begin to accept a new reality, you and I are strangers. But I want to assure you that very soon, we will become family.

And my grandfather is part of the reason why.

He showed me how to bold even when vulnerable and how to love no matter the circumstance.

Now, because of you and all those we’ve served, I realize why when asked, “What do you need?” I don’t have a clear answer. It’s because, just like my grandfather, my life’s purpose is to be the one that asks the question.

Whatever you need, we are here. I look forward to walking alongside you on this journey.

Stay strong, stay bold and stay loving,

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