As this blog post was developing, it could have devolved into a dark and morose rant but after our CJSTUF Board meeting this week, it’s anything but.
Here’s the thing: Last year, we expanded our Financial Assistance Grants to include patients at UVA Health Systems in Charlottesville (appropriate, eh?) which was a tremendous success! This year (July, actually), we added the Meal Fairies Program to the UVA mix. Again, it was very well received.
The staff at UVA Hospital has bent over backwards to help us and it looks like this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship!
So, here’s another thing: We have reached the edge of our ability to actually PAY for these services. We’ve bumped up against “The Green Ceiling” as I have come to think of it (all rights reserved, patent pending) and until we can break through it, we have to limit CJSTUF’s participation in C’Ville to twice a month. If you’ve followed our progress over the last five years, you’ll know that even weekly meals, like what we currently provide at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, aren’t really enough. We could conceivably be there every day for Lunch Bunch and not completely fill the need.
This challenge could be a rather sobering fact that drives the CJSTUF morale down into the dumps and makes us feel inadequate. Except it doesn’t. At our last CJSTUF Board meeting, the mood was anything but sobering. For the moment, the Board only approved launching Meal Fairies meals at UVA Health Systems twice a month through December. This will allow us to gauge response and feasibility for the upcoming fiscal year.
There has been such a positive response from UVA and others involved in the projects that we feel it’s only a matter of time before everything is fully funded. We have lined up several C’Ville-area food vendors who want to work with us and have started a discourse with the Ronald McDonald House out there to hopefully begin cooking meals for their residents.
It’s difficult to put into words the impact one meal has on a family’s psyche. You need to see it to get the full impact. But suffice to say, it can pull a parent out of the numbness that descends on us when we despair. The families actually have difficulty getting their heads around the fact that this meal is for them and it’s free. Sometimes, the stress of the situation can kill an appetite. One of our many mottos is, “You may not feel like it, but ya GOTTA eat.”
We also have been working extremely diligently behind the scenes to develop relationships that will blossom into long-term support for all of CJSTUF’s programs and operations.
So here’s the short-term goal: We will serve our bi-weekly meals (a phrase which here means “once every other week”) at UVA and continue Lunch Bunch at CHoR every Thursday in conjunction with Connor’s Heroes. At the same time, we want to get more individuals and local businesses to help us fund the meals. We budget $300 per meal and serve between 70-100 people each time we set up shop. If you sponsor a meal, we’ll make sure everyone knows that you did it and thank you very publicly.
Anyone interested in sponsoring a meal, let us know and we’ll get you all the pertinent information.
That “Green Ceiling” is SOOO toast!