Friday, February 18, 2011

Good Things are Happening with IHS Food Program

UVA Hospital Visit enjoyed by all

The Meal Packet Program, originated by Margaret Gorman and her religious education class, and continuing at Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church  - Unitarian Universalist (TJMC-UU) in Charlottesville, Virginia were allowed a rare opportunity for a site visit to the UVA Medical Center Social Service Office on Sunday morning, February 6. The class was accompanied by youth group leaders, John, Catherine, Jeff and Mike.

The TJMC-UU group has provided nearly four hundred full-day meal packets in the last three months, and used this opportunity to add more meals to keep the shelves adequately supplied for a few more weeks.  Later in this blog entry you will note further participation with making meal packets before summer.

Teresa Bevins, Clinical Social Worker, and monitor for the program at the hospital's Pediatric Clinic, hosted an hour of discussion about the role of social workers and the impact the Meal Packet Program was having for caregivers. Although no visitors are allowed onto the floor where caregivers are constantly staying with their infant children, the visit provided this pre-college group a chance to learn about the vital role of UVA Medical Center's social work staff.

 The TJMC-UU group had lunch in the hospital cafeteria, just to experience the cost for a single meal. A "full-day meal packet" made by participating groups are nutritionally balanced with diversified items, and based on selective shopping, actually costs less than a single meal from the cafeteria.  This proved to be a reality check for students who realized the expense for a caregiver seeking to balance funds while staying in the hospital away from home for weeks, even months at a time.

Louisa County Cub Scout Pack 183 has joined the Meal Packet Program

Pack 183 has 69 active cub scouts, under the leadership of Cubmaster Jim Snider, and Pack Committee members, Tina Schweikart and Karin Sewell.  On January 30th Tina Schweikart, along with her personal helpers, Connor and Taylor Schweikart, delivered 71 full-day meal packets and 10 breakfast packets to IHS for further delivery to the UVA Medical Center.

Tina Schweikart assumed the leadership role for the project. Scouts and parents went into full organizational mode for purchases and then filling of packets at their January meeting. Personal cards were made, signed and placed in each packet with special notes to recipients of the meal packets.

This past week we received a note from Tina on behalf of Pack 183, which said:
"We are very excited to become a part of this program. We also talked about our ability to commit as a pack twice a year to these collections, and plan to dedicate October and March as our months to assist, hopefully keeping this tradition going for a long time."
A special Valentine's "Giving from the Heart" Party

In early December 2010, IHS received a very personal note from Dawn Cleveland who lives in the Kimbrough Circle neighborhood in Charlottesville. Dawn felt that organizing an event for giving was something she could do with the very young.

That event was scheduled around a Valentine's Day theme in the last week. Dawn said, "The party guests were from Crozet, Ivy, Earlysville, and family from Northern Virginia. 16 kids and 10 adults made for an awesome assembly line. They were age 18 months - 15 years, all helping make cards and assembling bags."

Dawn also said, "One of my friends is an employee of Whole Foods, and she was able to get the store to donate some items as well. I noticed that Whole Foods has been a good sponsor of IHS with their wooden nickels project in the store."

Dawn noticed how the event has sparked a real connection with giving with her young children. She said that her 4-year old is still talking about "the people who don't have money for food," and the comment by her 6-year old when he suggested, "Maybe we could give them money in the bags too, so they could buy more food." 

The Kimbrough Circle "Giving from the Heart" party had an objective of producing 24 full-day meal packets; however, 34 full-day meal packets were delivered to IHS on February 17th.
Other groups in the pipeline for adding to this total effort ...

Boy Scout Troop 79, located at Crozet United Methodist Church in Crozet, Virginia has a work project scheduled for February 22nd. Their objective is 100 full-day meal packets, according to Sandy Williams, speaking on behalf of the scouts. No group has ever assembled 100 full-day meals in one day, so this is going to be an exciting evening of energy and satisfaction of knowing that it is possible to make a genuine, positive impact in the lives of so many people.

Murray Elementary School (Ivy) Helping Hands Club, and their guidance leader, Jennifer LoCasale-Crouch, are presently fund-raising for food collection for an assembly and delivery session in March.

St. Paul's Episcopal Church Ivy Spirit Movers Sunday School assembled 20 meal packets on February 13th, and will present their project to the entire congregation at the February 20th worship service.

TJMC - UU children continue their productive ways with meal packet projects scheduled for February - March with an objective of 100 packets, and a similar objective in May. Their example is marvelous for other church groups to emulate.

 In Summary...

The continued expansion of this Central Virginia IHS Meal Packet Program, which has now reached into several counties,  is allowing for monetary contributions to be dedicated to a growing need for lodging support. Margaret Gorman is reviewing a "Rotation Map" for informing new participants as to those months when production of meal packets need an extra input.

However, full-day meal packets should contain items which have a solid shelf life for many, many months. Therefore, if a large number of packets is produced prior to the long summer or winter holiday breaks, which can effect scout and school club activities, then IHS is standing by for a call for pickup and delivery in any month which makes the activity convenient for all contributors.

Allow me to offer an example of how all of IHS objectives can come together with just one patient...

For purposes of privacy, in the not so distant past, a small child was released from the UVA Medical Center on a Friday. The child was here with a grandparent, with no funds for sustaining outside the hospital environment. The child needed a prescription filled for pickup at the hometown pharmacy over 300 miles away, but Medicaid offices were closed for extended assistance. The ride home by Medicaid taxi was not available until the following morning. The status was this: no funds for food, lodging, and medications until arrival at home. 

The social worker on duty called the pharmacy in the child's hometown, and indicated some specifics, and IHS paid for the medication to assist for a few days until Medicaid could be engaged again on Monday. IHS immediately booked a hotel room for the night near the hospital. The social worker then obtained several meal packets from the social worker office to feed the child and grandparent through several days until securely back at home.

You may ask and rightfully many meal packets are needed? A definitive answer is difficult, for the need is experienced in all of the UVA Clinics. Lack of nutrition reaches long and short term residents at UVA Hospitality House,  caregivers in Ronald McDonald House, many family members who have come to be near a loved one in critical care, and many outpatients with only funds for travel to the UVA Cancer Center for treatment,  etc. etc.  Dawn Cleveland and Margaret Gorman reminded their children to remember that one person staying as a caregiver for 60 days needs 60 full-day meal packets. It is a sobering example, and presently the IHS objective must be prepared with no less than 300 full-day meals monthly.

Blessings ... T. Wade Clegg III