I’ve volunteered off and on in my life. It is something I have always enjoyed but I haven’t kept up on consistently.
After I had my first daughter, I kept seeing information on Lasagna Love. It looked like something I would be interested in, but I still was unsure as to how I could help. When I finally decided to sit down and learn more about it, I felt like it was something I could both commit to and enjoy.
Lasagna Love is a global nonprofit and grassroots movement that aims to positively impact communities by connecting neighbors with neighbors through homemade meal delivery. Their mission is simple: feed families, spread kindness, and strengthen communities. There are over 45,000 volunteers spread throughout 3 countries, which means 3,500 meals are delivered to individuals or families each week.
To be transparent, I don’t love lasagna. I’ll eat it, but I rarely make it. I made lasagna for my family a couple of times before committing, so I didn’t mess it up for anyone else. I still remember the first time I made it for my “match” and how the delivery went.
Involve your kids
I asked my almost two-year-old daughter to go with me; we drove to an apartment complex close to where I grew up. Although she may not have fully understood the purpose, I explained to her what we were doing, and why we were doing it. She seemed giddy to help me walk into the apartment building and hand someone a lasagna, not realizing how much it meant to that person we just touched.
I love being a Lasagna Love volunteer. It allows me to exercise my skills as a Registered Dietitian. I actually get quite a few requests for specific ingredients to be left out, or allergies to be aware of. That part is very easy for me and it creates a good challenge.
I also love being able to choose how often I want to make lasagna. I set my schedule to get a match once a month. This is a sweet spot for me. It doesn’t create an overcommitment for me. Most importantly, I love the impact I am a part of. Receiving a text back from my “match” that they are so thankful to be getting a meal (and more) delivered makes my heart so warm.
Each month, when I get matched and set up a delivery time, it is always on the weekend as it allows more flexibility. I always ask my daughter if she wants to go with me, and she always does. Each time, she asks me what we are doing, and why we are doing it. Each time, she seems to get it a little more and it has become something she really loves doing.
A couple of months ago, I told her I was making lasagna, but I hadn’t asked her yet if she wanted to tag along. Instead, she asked me if she could go with me – of course, I said yes. It’s a bond and an experience we have created together to help others, and I love being able to share that kindness all around.
Whether you want to volunteer for Lasagna Love, or any other organization, remember that committing just a small part of your time makes a big difference in others’ lives. Find something that brings you joy while doing it. Showing your kids how to help with this may feel overwhelming, but remember you are engraving something small in their hearts that will help them show up in a big way in the future.