Did you ever feel helpless? Alone? Frightened? Do you recall how a smile of sunshine could break through the black clouds? The hospitals are filled with family members who have been suddenly catapulted out of their comfortable daily routine to deal with a nightmare of fear. They spend hours and hours with the patient, never even noticing their own needs. A quick coke from the machine down the hall will have to sustain them for the day. Often vital decisions must be made with the decision-maker running on empty. Until Lottie’s Kitchen comes by. A sympathetic volunteer arrives at the door bearing a mouth-watering, attractively served, hot meal. The caregiver, who hadn’t even realized that he is fasting, is revived like drooping flower after a heavy rain. A pat on the shoulder, an understanding remark, some practical advice complete the meal. He feel strengthened. He is now able to once again give to the patient who is depending on him.
Yaakov* is a case in point. He known as Mr. Nice Guy. He’s happy to help a neighbor. He gives generously when solicited by charities. But he never really ‘got it’. One evening, he received a routine call from a telemarketer asking for a contribution to Ezer Mizion’s Lottie’s Kitchen. As usual, he gave a large donation and promptly forgot about the call. Until the next day. His young son fell and it became obvious that a bandaid and a kiss on the boo-boo would not be enough. First it was the ambulance sirens. Then a scary X-ray machine. And finally the doctor’s serious face when they met in his office. The leg was broken in a bad way. Lunch? Supper? These were not on his radar screen at all. And his face reflected his long fast. A Lottie’s Kitchen volunteer passed by and recognized the signs. She approached him with a meal and he began to cry. “I just gave a donation to Lottie’s Kitchen last night. But I never realized what it really meant to be alone in the hospital, scared and weak with hunger. It’s really true that everything you do comes back to you. It’s really true!”
A call comes into the office. A family is in ICU with their small child. Can meals be provided? Details are recorded and a volunteer adds the new family onto her list. But, as she hands over the trays, two other sets of parents look on in wonder.
“Were the meals ordered from a take-out place?” they whisper to each other.
“They’re so nice looking.”
“We’ve been here since early morning. You look so worn out. I’ll manage but maybe we can get one just for you.”
“We have so many medical expenses now. I don’t think we can afford it.”
To the couples’ astonishment, extra food magically appears and their names are added to the daily Lottie’s Kitchen roster for the duration of their hospital stays.
“Magic” doesn’t really happen magically. It happens because of all of you who have supported Lottie’s Kitchen. Each year, 81,600 Hot Meals, 83,200 Sandwiches and 13,000 Slices of Cake are delivered to the hospital wards, the emergency rooms and to patients’ homes. Our files are filled with thank you notes that rightly belong to you. It may be the mother who spent nine hours on an ‘excursion’ at Hadassah Hospital ER with nothing to feed her brood of five small, cranky children. Or it can be a frantic wife of a terror victim or a distraught mother of a preemie on a respirator. Each year, thousands say, “We never could have made it through the crisis without Lottie’s Kitchen.”
This year Lottie’s Kitchen will be held on July 7 at the home of Frieda & Joey Franco in Deal NJ.
In loving memory of Manny Hamowy & Robin Ashkenazie
See you there!