Give & Take: More than a Meal
Growing up, meals were always at the center of any family event. Every holiday, birthday or celebration started in the kitchen. As many people know, cooking can bring your family together, create wonderful memories and, certainly for me, elicit feelings of nostalgia.
As an adult, my favorite way to start the week is by going to my grandmother’s house on Sunday mornings for her home cooked breakfast of scrambled eggs, blueberry muffins and lots of coffee. When I prepare my own meals using my mom’s old cookbook, which is falling apart at the seams – with pages ripped – and is covered in notes, I’m reminded of the happy memories we formed making those same meals that we created together our whole lives.
I recognize the power of gathering around a table with family and the memories that certain food can bring back. That’s why volunteering with in-person meal prepping organizations is so special to me, and something I have been doing all my life. Joining Prosek, I knew that I wanted to continue volunteering and get my colleagues involved in some of the organizations I had grown up working with such as Operation Hope and Al’s Angels.
Pictured: Marisa (right) and Prosek's Shadae Leslie (left) volunteering at an Al’s Angels holiday meal prep event in Bridgeport, CT
This past holiday season, Prosek’s Fairfield office volunteered with Al’s Angels for their annual holiday meal prep event. Al’s Angels is a nonprofit based in Westport, Connecticut with the mission to provide support to children and families battling cancer, rare blood diseases, natural disasters and severe financial hardship. This year, hundreds of volunteers arrived in the rain to Hartford Healthcare Amphitheater to pack meals for families struggling with financial challenges and illness.
Due to the pandemic, the past couple years have been hard for in-person volunteering with local organizations – with some limiting volunteers and even canceling in-person events all together. Working side by side with people of all ages at this recent meal prep event was a rewarding experience that I certainly had missed.
It was meaningful to watch the coordination of so many individuals and families, and to see how we were all working together to ultimately provide a wonderful meal for thousands of families. By the end of the two hours, our team, who started off as strangers, had packed over a dozen boxes and worked to load them onto the trucks to head to the Cohen Children’s Medical Center and Stony Brook Children’s hospital.
Following the pandemic, many things may seem so different than they were before. However, the memories of our favorite foods will always stay the same. That is exactly why I am so passionate about in-person volunteering and events centered around food. Not only were we volunteering to create meals for families in need, but also, we had the opportunity to remind folks of happier memories and ensure they had at least one great reason to get together during the holiday season.