By Dasha Morgan
Asheville – Arden – A small group of ladies have pitched in to make the lives of Mission, Pardee and Advent (and hopefully soon the VA ) Hospital nurses, doctors and caregivers a little bit easier. In fact next week the Cherry Springs Nursing Home in Hendersonville which has been badly hit by the Coronavirus may be recipients too.
Jill Wasilewski, the owner of Ivory Road Cafe in Arden, reacted to a suggestion from Jennifer Breslin of High Vista Community POA in Mills River. Jen said that she had heard from a friend of her sister about meals being served to the stressed out, exhausted hospital workers in Tampa. Her sister’s friend had spoken about take-out meals being brought and given to nurses and doctors in the Florida area. So the suggestion was made to Jill of Ivory Road Cafe who also runs the Pub at High Vista. If she, Jennifer were willing to raise some money, would Jill be willing to provide the meals? Jill, after pausing a moment to think, accepted.
It is just amazing what charitable, giving people do in a time of crisis. Jen has raised quite a few donations. In fact she said “She was astounded at how quickly the High Vista Community, in response to her online Facebook request, stepped up to the plate. Within 48 hours over $3,000 had been donated.” This started the ball rolling for the first series of meal deliveries by Jill herself to Mission Hospital.
Jill, with the additional help of her friends Samantha and Chris Kronberg of Foggy Mountain Brews Pub and The Med of Asheville, are now delivering 30-60 meals a day, seven days a week to the hospitals. They work from their respective restaurant kitchens to prepare nutritious, appealing meals. They prepare the meals the day of delivery and package them as well.
The two ladies decided to divide the week’s schedule. One is on for four days; then the other takes over for the next four. Sometimes they prepare a fresh nutritious salad, maybe a chicken or Cobb salad, sometimes a pasta, mac and cheese, a sandwich, hamburger, or quiche. They like to include something unusual, perhaps some hummus or for a sweet a delicious homemade dessert. The meals are always fresh and nourishing, always prepared on the day of delivery.
The meals can be for lunch or for dinner—depending on the hospital unit’s request. They have delivered three times to the COVID-19 workers but make deliveries to many other different units as well, such as the undoubtedly overworked housekeeping department. As Sam said, “It is one less thing these devoted hospital workers need to think about. They have so much to deal with.” There is no doubt the hospital staff are all working to exhaustion trying to stop this horrific pandemic from killing more people.
Those delivering the meals–often Jill or Jen themselves—are met outside by hospital staff in Hazmat suits and face masks, who pick up the boxed meals on a cart and distribute them inside. The handover must be totally safe and sanitary. Recently Asheville Rooftop Bar and Tours, who obviously cannot give tours to tourists during this pandemic, have donated their resources and time to deliver the meals. This has been a huge help for all and greatly appreciated.
Overall both Jill and Samantha find themselves invigorated by being able to go back to work. At first, when the virus hit, both closed their restaurants, not wanting to spread or cause anyone harm. Jill was extremely upset about the sudden change of events and having to let her staff go. Sam said, “I am used to working 8 to 12 hours a day. It was weird suddenly doing nothing.
Helping the doctors and nurses, I find this refreshing; I really like feeding people again. And yes, everyone we bring the meals to seems so grateful. I hope we are lifting their spirits a little.” Jill mentioned that there is the trickle-down economic effect too for the local producers. “I had stopped ordering completely. Now I can order again from my local vendors, such as Mills River Creamery and local farmers. It must be helping them too.”
Donations are being accepted by check sent to Ivory Road LLC at 1854 Brevard Road, Arden, NC 28704 or via Venmo(@Jill-Wasilewski). $8 provides a meal for one healthcare worker, $260 provides meals for a whole unit. Any amount you can send will help and is greatly appreciated. As Jill said on her Ivory Road Cafe & Kitchen facebook page: “We need YOUR help to keep this rolling – and we are so grateful to everyone who has supported this effort so far! We feel extremely humbled and appreciative to both support our small business, as well as make sure those on the frontlines fighting this virus receive the nourishment and appreciation that they SO deserve.”