Delivering More Than Meals
By Erin Pulling, CEO
Though Thanksgiving is still a couple of weeks away, Project Angel Heart’s professional chefs have already planned a Thanksgiving dinner for critically ill clients, and our team of loyal volunteers will begin preparing the meal next week. The special energy of the holiday season is already in the air throughout Project Angel Heart’s kitchen.I try to stop to chat with several of Project Angel Heart’s amazingly passionate, dedicated volunteers each time I walk over to the kitchen from our adjacent offices. Invariably, many faces are familiar, while others are completely new. The diverse motivations of each of these generous community members for supporting our organization never cease to interest and amaze me. Today, I stopped to chat with Fred, who has been an active volunteer with Project Angel Heart for nearly five years. Sweet, generous, and smiling, Fred is so consistently eager to help that he can most often be found at the dish pit, doing the dirty work that most volunteers eschew in favor of chopping carrots.
In the course of chatting about Thanksgiving plans, Fred mentioned that this time of year always inspires him to concentrate on how glad he is still to be alive. I argued that he was too young to be talking like that; though I knew he has already retired from his work as a college professor, Fred can’t be much older than sixty. That’s when he told me how thirteen years ago, he was diagnosed with brain cancer and given three to twelve months to live. Shocked, I watched as this man who beat such stark odds felt for the radiation scars on his scalp and explained that he can no longer drive—a friend gives him a ride to and from his volunteer shifts at Project Angel Heart.
Graced with the friends, family, and finances needed to support him through his treatment and recovery, Fred never received Project Angel Heart meals when he was ill. Still, he shows up every week to donate his time and energy to Project Angel Heart because he so profoundly understands the devastation of a life-threatening diagnosis. Volunteering here helps him remember to be actively grateful for his life by contributing to those less lucky than he.
At Project Angel Heart, we strive to deliver much more than the literal gift of meals to our clients. We hope that they also feel the personalized support and caring that go into each of those meals—from the nutritional research performed by our Modified Meals Specialist to the earnest dedication Fred brings to the dish pit. In the same way that Project Angel Heart delivers so much more than just a meal, Season To Share delivers so much more than just the dollars that help to make our program possible. Like Fred, our friends at The Denver Post give their time and a true sense of caring that permeates the projects they support. As the holidays approach, we would like to follow Fred’s cue and acknowledge, with gratitude, gifts given and received among the community that nurtures us all. We – and all the clients we serve – are lucky to count Season To Share as part of that community.