By JOANNA TEBBS YOUNG | Correspondent.
Sheri Sullivan, owner of Plan-It Sheri Catering and Sheri’s Diner in Brandon, began volunteering for hospice by cooking and delivering meals to patients and their caretakers in 2003. Witnessing the joy the meals delivered, Sullivan was inspired to expand the idea. Dinners with Love was the result.
Twelve years later, Dinners with Love, a nonprofit since 2009, has 44 restaurants on its roster throughout Rutland and Addison counties that donate meals. Once on board and provided with a Dinners with Love manual, the individual restaurants coordinate with local hospice organizations, such as Rutland Area Visiting Nurse Association and Hospice and BAYADA, to schedule weekly, customized meal deliveries. Sullivan notes it is a “value-added” service the hospice organizations can provide their patients and families.
According to Sullivan, Rutland eateries Roots the Restaurant and Table 24 have been involved since the beginning. Table 24’s Stephen Sawyer said, “I’ve had several people come up to me at the restaurant to say their parent, grandparent, etc. was grateful for the home-cooked meal while they were sick. It’s of course kind of sad as it’s literally sometimes their last meal, but it’s great to give back and make them happy.”
Other Rutland restaurants include Stafford Technical Center’s The Dollhouse Restaurant, The Palms, Kelvans, and Little Harry’s. The full list of participating Rutland and Addison county restaurants can be found at dinnerswithlove.org.
Serving as president and visionary of what Sullivan states is the organization’s “very competent” board, she has a goal of taking the program nationwide. They are currently looking to expand into New York State.
“We had no idea what difference it would make in people’s lives — it’s huge,” Sullivan said. “It’s a simple idea with a large impact.”
Sullivan shares the story of the lady, who, when asked what she would like to eat, would always request a surprise. She never knew what she was going to get and “she loved it,” Sullivan said. “It brings them a bit of joy.”
As it states on the Dinners with Love website, Sullivan had quickly discovered through her volunteer work that “comfort and quality of life are all that matters.” A hot meal delivered with love to share with loved ones at a difficult time in a family’s life can make a big difference. “Making dying people happy, that is the most important piece.”
Monetary donations are always appreciated to cover administration costs. They can be sent to: P.O. Box 322, Brandon, VT 05733.