By Sarah Elisabeth Sawyer
Sometimes when guests drive up to Reba’s Ranch House, they are on their last gallon of gas. Having a cozy room to stay in while their loved one is hospitalized is already a gift, but they soon learn the hospitality doesn’t end there. A hot meal often awaits them in the ranch house’s kitchen.
“Eating at the ranch house saves them money,” says Linda Vissering, the Meal Ministry Coordinator at the ranch house. “But more than that, it’s knowing that somebody cared about them as a stranger in a difficult situation. They are out of town and out of their comfort zone, but they get to eat food that was made with someone’s own hands that cared enough to do something for a stranger. It’s things like mac and cheese and meatloaf, stuff that makes you feel good and at home.”
Linda heads up the schedule for the meal ministry, and makes sure nothing goes to waste. She keeps leftovers labeled and rotated in the ranch house’s refrigerator and freezer. Meals are available nearly every day of the week for any guest who needs them after a long day at the hospital.
There are also canned goods like soups in the pantry for a quick meal. On-the-go breakfast options like sausage and biscuit sandwiches and breakfast pockets help guests start the day. Then they are sent off to the hospital with a bag filled with snacks and a bottle of water.
The heart of the Reba’s Ranch House’s Meal Ministry remains the hot meals brought three times a week. Linda coordinates the local churches, leagues, and restaurants that contribute.
“It doesn’t take very much effort from any one person to make it work,” Linda says. “You get 3 ladies together and each one preparing a portion of the meal makes it easier. A little bit of effort from individuals adds up. That’s how the meal ministry works.”
Linda has been a longtime fan of the ranch house since the fundraising days when she bought tickets for the Reba concerts. Linda was a medical assistant at the hospital and accustomed to referring caregivers to the ranch house.
When she retired, Linda began volunteering at the house. As a breast cancer survivor, she was drawn to help in the Room for Hope — a room in Reba’s Ranch House created to help support those in the community facing cancer. Her volunteering grew into lending a hand at fundraising luncheons, and her current place as the volunteer meal ministry coordinator.
“One day, Marilyn said, ‘I’ve got a job I think you’d be good at,’ because I like to talk and know how to raise money,” Linda laughed. “She thought I’d be able to talk to people about helping with the meal ministry.”
Volunteering after retirement is the perfect path to retaining health and well-being. You get to meet with friends regularly and help those in tough situations.
Like Linda and the meal ministry team, it can start as simply as cooking a portion of a meal every few months.
You can be part of making feel-good meals happen at Reba’s Ranch House when you give financially. Your support keeps this loving home open at no cost to caregivers.