What’s Cookin’ at JoeAnna’s House?
They volunteered for a new program called Share-a-Meal, with the intention to come to JoeAnna’s House and cook a warm, nourishing meal for the out-of-town families staying there while their loved ones are receiving advanced medical care at Kelowna General Hospital.
But what’s really been cookin’ at JoeAnna’s House on Wednesday nights is more than just dinner.
It turns out that on these special evenings, dinner is just the catalyst for so much more. Prepared, cooked, served and then shared, our volunteer chefs enjoy the meal together with JoeAnna’s House guests, staff and volunteers. There are stories, laughter, and sometimes, a few tears. But mostly, there is the joy that comes from human connection. The kind of connection that warms the heart and inspires hope.
Share-a-Meal was launched by the KGH Foundation in late 2022. The program allows a group to prepare and share a meal with guests currently staying in the home, from grocery shopping to the last load of pots and pans sterilized and put away.
“For so many families wanting to maintain a presence at KGH for the period of their loved one’s treatment, the travel and lack of affordable short-term accommodation in Kelowna add significantly to their hardship,” says Darlene Haslock, Director of JoeAnna’s House. “Often people arrive with no personal belongings, completely overwhelmed because of their loved one’s medical situation. Providing a stress-free meal for these folks can be a little bright spot in what is a very challenging time.”
“Whether it’s a group of friends, colleagues, or members of a service club or team, Share-a-Meal is a way to give that ends in a healthy, nutritious meal for our guests. And so much more.”
Never too many cooks in the kitchen!
In late December, six chefs from the Okanagan Chefs Association (OCA), along with friends Bernie Ryan and Emily McDonald from Fluid Power Solutions, arrived at the JoeAnna’s House kitchen. With seasonal music playing, they cooked and poked fun at one another, performing jovial jigs between the freezer, the ovens and the countertops while chopping, mincing, and mixing. They worked together like a family in the kitchen. It took less than ten minutes for delicious aromas to begin to fill the house.
“When my friend Bernie Ryan shared this opportunity to support JoeAnna’s House, I was 100 per cent on board,” says Brent Durec, OCA President. “And within five minutes of sending the call-out to our members, I was inundated with responses to join in.”
“Volunteering our time and helping our community is something we are all passionate about,” continues Brent. “This is such a super supportive and amazing crew, I just love these folks.”
A heartfelt connection
One OCA member chef who participated that evening was Adam Relvas, owner of Relvas Catering. He came to JoeAnna’s House that night in high spirits. Behind his warm brown eyes and quick wit, Adam has a particularly heartfelt reason for supporting JoeAnna’s House.
In 2016, shortly after he had opened up a new café, Adam’s three-year-old son was diagnosed with cancer and required treatment at BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver.
“We spent a year and a half at Ronald McDonald House,” shares Adam. “My wife was there full-time and I would drive back and forth from Kelowna. It was really tough but fortunately, we had a lot of people to help us out.”
Adam’s son completed treatment, is cancer-free, and turns ten years old in February. “We are so grateful and determined that we would pay back in some way… and do it in the same way in which we had received support.”
“I know what it’s like to be uprooted from home and need a safe and comfortable place to stay,” says Adam. “It’s on our hearts to do our part.”
At JoeAnna’s House, you can never have too many cooks in the kitchen.
Because we are always Better Together.
For more information about Share-a-Meal at JoeAnna’s House, contact Darlene Haslock at email@example.com or 250-470-0100. We’d love to have you in our kitchen!