There are a variety of ways to get involved at Santa Clara’s JW House. Donors can give in many ways: making a single monetary donation; volunteering by performing light housekeeping, answering phones and giving tours once a week; purchasing items on the house’s wish list; buying a JW House tile; or using a SaveMart S.H.A.R.E.S. card to give back by buying groceries. But, one of the most popular and most rewarding ways to give to the JW House is by sponsoring a meal as part of the “Dinner…is Served” program.
Dinner is served every evening at 6 p.m. and both individuals and groups have the opportunity to prepare a meal, either on-or-offsite, for a minimum of 20 guests. Each meal typically includes a salad, entrée, side dish, bread and dessert. Meals can be as simple as spaghetti and marinara, or as complex as homemade chicken pot pie with a crust made from scratch. The amount of effort put into creating the meal is entirely up to the group volunteering – and their culinary limitations.
“After a long day at the hospital, our guests look forward to coming ‘home’ to find that someone has planned and prepared a delicious meal just for them,” reads a PDF about the program on the JW House website. “Groups who participate in ‘Dinner…is Served’ soon discover that their efforts go far beyond simply supplying dinner. As families gather for dinner, a warm sense of community exists. It is a place where families can relax with one another and check in on how another’s loved one is doing.”
On December 30, I personally learned just how much fun cooking for JW House could be when I was asked to help sponsor a dinner.
The four of us (Ankita Kohli, a JW House volunteer; Phil Jones, an EMT working out of Kaiser Santa Clara; and Alicia Rangel, a JW House employee) made a tofu and chicken stir fry with white rice, bean salad and pistachio pudding squares for dessert.
After getting a late start, our small group frantically prepared our parts – chopping, sautéing, blending and steaming – as many of our guests began to file into the JW House dining room.
Our guests laughed as we joked around and finalized the details of our dinner and, while we were a bit late in our service, no one seemed to mind. Everyone was thankful for our efforts and the fact that, for an hour, they were able to meet with others and converse outside the hospital walls. Friendships were made between our guests and many used dinner as a time to check in on the loved one of someone they had met during dinner the night before.
Soon after 7 p.m., everyone, some with to-go boxes in hand, began leaving the house and heading back to the hospital. We served over 20 people and made their evening special – even if our veggies were a tiny bit undercooked and rice slightly chewy.
For more information or to sign up for the “Dinner…Is Served” program at JW House visit http://jwhouse.org/involve.htm.