By Dinah Dalder
My interest in food and nutrition began when I took an advanced foods course as an elective in high school. I had a wonderful teacher and I loved learning about the composition of foods and why our bodies needed different vitamins and minerals. I also got interested in cooking during that time and still use recipes I copied by hand from magazines and my mother’s cookbooks. I went to college with the plan on becoming a Registered Dietitian and that goal was fulfilled after getting my degree in Human Nutrition from the University of Michigan and completing a 6 month dietetic internship at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.
I moved to Indiana and decided It would be a good idea to get my Masters degree at Purdue University while we were “in town.” I had the good fortune to be hired by Evelyn Abel as her graduate teaching assistant at Purdue and she was one of the reasons my husband and I became members at Trinity. After finishing my graduate degree, I worked as a clinical dietitian at Home Hospital. Many things in nutrition changed over the 15 years I worked at the hospital, including the recognition of the importance of nutrition in helping patients get well and stay well. I loved working with the most challenging patients – those who could not eat or could not eat enough nourishing food. It was my mission to team up with the doctors and nurses to find a way for these patients to get enough nutrition.
As a member of Trinity, I started volunteering with the Community Meal when some extra help was needed and eventually became the volunteer coordinator. The Community Meal provided a free lunch for anyone who came to eat at noon on Sundays. It was a blessing to have another way for me to use my training in foods and nutrition. Although I had lots of experience working with hospitalized individuals, I was shocked by the eating challenges I noticed in the people who came to eat at the Community Meal. Many of the guests’ teeth were in terrible condition. Volunteers brought in lovely fresh fruit and vegetables, but the guests turned the food away because they could not chew well enough. I was able to help give ideas to the volunteers bringing food so that the guests would have healthy food that they could eat.
Volunteering at the Community Meal to help people receive adequate food was a hugely rewarding experience for me. I was able to use my professional training and background to serve those in need and help advise volunteers about possible menu items. I learned a lot from the people who came to the meal and discovered how difficult it was for these individuals to have enough nutritious food to eat. Most of the guests were so thankful for the meal and appreciated everything the volunteers were providing. It was a blessing for me to help this vulnerable population and I am grateful for this opportunity.
by Laura Stevens
One Sunday at church Pastor Linda told me she was starting a new Visitation Committee to visit shut-ins who are Trinity members. She asked if I could do that. I believe I tried to come up with an excuse not to do this, but I couldn’t come up with a good one so finally I said, “Of course!” I was asked to visit a church member at one of our local care facilities.
My first few visits were difficult. I told her who I was and why I was there. I asked her how she was, and she replied grimly, “I eat. I sit. I sleep.” It broke my heart, so I said to myself, “Oh, God, please help me to bring a little sunlight into her life. Please help me to know what to do to make her life a little better.” I found she could see very little because of macular degeneration (she has lost all her central vision). She had two relatives in town, but they rarely visit. She and I didn’t have a lot in common. In her younger years she had worked hard at Warren Paper Company making jigsaw puzzles and had also worked in a tomato processing plant--a life that was foreign to me.
But I started to ask others at Trinity about this member. They remembered her for her singing in Trinity talent shows and from sitting in the front row each Sunday and singing her heart out. So I asked her about her singing, and we at last had something to talk about! One visit I suggested we say the Lord’s Prayer together, and we only got through about the first line when she burst into song and sang the rest so that anyone in the halls could hear! What a gift she had given me! After that, she would sing for me hymns she loved—a real treat. Now, her voice is that of an 80+ year old but I think it is wonderful! I started to bring a CD player and we listened to all kinds of music—she said she loves all music. So we listened together to lots of hymns, Christmas carols, to South Pacific, My Fair Lady, Oklahoma, Strauss waltzes and the Kington Trio, one of my favorites. We even listened to Bob Newhart jokes and laughed together. I love it when she laughs! She loves to hear about my cat, Bentley, and laughs hard at his stories. She can’t see my face, but I wear colorful socks which she can see and which make her smile and laugh. She loves cherries and cherry pie especially so I’ve been bringing her some cherry desserts. Yesterday I brought her sliced fresh peaches. I know the care facility really tries hard with the food, but her meals don’t look very appetizing to her or to me!
I have gotten far more out of my visits with her than I ever could have expected. At the end of each visit we hug and tell each other we love each other. I feel like I am doing God’s work when I visit her. She once told me, “I love having visitors, and I love music, and I love to sing!”
Laura's friendship with this nursing home resident has truly given this resident a new life. The resident is a different person since Laura started visiting with her. Would you like to make a difference in someone's life? Please contact Pastor Linda for more information.
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