Life’s most persistent and urgent question is ‘What are you doing for others?’
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
JourneyCare wanted to offer area youth an opportunity to learn more about Dr. Martin Luther King’s Day of Service and actively engage in a community project to honor this legacy. Through the Soup & Stories initiative developed last year, 4th grade through high school volunteers delivered warmth and comfort to the homes of JourneyCare patients and families on Martin Luther King Day, delivering care packages containing homemade fleece blankets, conversation cards and a container of homemade chicken soup.
This year, thanks to generous contributions from both the Barrington Junior Women’s Club and the Barrington Area Community Foundation and a donation of over 160 fleece blankets from Cub Scout Pack 194 Den 10 in Crystal Lake, the Soup & Stories program grew to serve more patients and families, with deliveries on Saturday, Sunday and Monday over the holiday weekend.
In fact, after serving 50 patients the first year, the number of patients and families touched by Soup and Stories this year more than doubled.
“What makes this unique—beyond offering an extra touch that delights those we care for—is that Soup & Stories offers a rare chance for our youngest volunteers to interact with patients and families, said Amy O’Donnell, Lead Volunteer Coordinator. “Plus, they make these deliveries with their parents so it’s a family affair that creates some meaningful memories for all involved.”
Sisters Emma (8th grade) and Kate (5th grade) Kainz were joined by their mom, Jennifer, in making deliveries to four families in Elgin.
“What a great experience it was for the girls,” shared Jennifer. “We fell in love with our last family…a couple that has been married for 71 years! We could have stayed all day. They were so appreciative and enjoyed having young girls brighten up the room.”
Participating in Soup & Stories also offered two Barrington High School juniors an introduction to JourneyCare. Claire Brown and Kellie Mullany completed their Volunteer Orientation a week before making deliveries for Soup & Stories. Their visit with Elizabeth, a 105-year-old patient, really made an impression.
“She was very sweet and talkative, and so grateful for the blanket,” shared Claire. “She said she gets a lot of gifts, but never had anything as nice as this.”
Claire and Kellie decided to volunteer with JourneyCare because they want to explore careers in the medical field.
In 2014, HandsOn Suburban Chicago awarded JourneyCare a MLK Youth-in-Action Grant to support a challenge to engage at least 100 youth volunteers in a community service project. The result was Soup & Stories.
“The Soup & Stories project has really become a favorite service activity at JourneyCare,” explained Amy. “It really helps us kick off each year of service in a big way.”