If you would like to contact Cali, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please join us in
We are so pleased to introduce Cali Hyer as our organization's new Communications Manager. She will be the hub and voice of our twitter handle (www.twitter.com/local4loc4loc), our facebook page (www.facebook.com/local4local4local) and our general communications efforts. Cali has been part of the Local4Local4Local family since our inception in July 2011, and has been a consistently solid and positive voice for us. She is the Internet Manager for Capital Jeep in south Edmonton (one of our Organization's fantastic business members) and has been of service several times in our efforts at Ronald McDonald House Northern Alberta. You can read about her experiences in her blog post here: http://blogs.capitaljeep.com/blog/2012/10/25/our-experience-with-local4local4local-and-the-ronald-mcdonald-house/.
If you would like to contact Cali, you can reach her at email@example.com. Please join us in
There is something very comforting about turkey dinner. The aromas, the heartiness, the all day anticipation as your home becomes a haven of sweet smells. And when some of Edmonton's self professed "Foodies" meet in the Ronald McDonald House Northern Alberta kitchen to make a turkey dinner for the House families, yummy things are guaranteed to happen...
This event was all about the FOOD... big, huge, local turkeys from ACME Meat Market, Green Bean and Tomato Salad featuring green beans and grape tomatoes from Blush Lane Organic Market, mashed spuds (these had been donated to the House and were not local but needed to be used... We are all about LOCAL but we are not about WASTE...) and all the fixins...
"I would love to take all of these House kids home with me!"
There was much camaraderie in the kitchen as hands and hearts prepared dinner, the discussion ranging from local politics to local trends, to a common appreciation for the keen sense of community fostered by the people of Edmonton. It is certainly no secret that Edmonton boasts a richness of community as no other city, but nowhere is this sense of community more prevalent than in the "#yegfood" Community.
All one has to do is search the #yegfood hashtag on twitter to be connected with one of the richest and most passionate communities in Edmonton. And the kitchen at Ronald McDonald House was no exception.
"It's always wonderful being invited into Ronald McDonald House by Local4Local4Local. Thank you SO much for including us!
The team of Local Food Enthusiasts was led by the gracious and fun owners of ACME Meat Market, Corey and Amanda Meyer (www.acmemeatmarket.ca). Lending even more to the experience, Corey and Amanda brought their two boys to help out, whom they lovingly refer to as their "Mini Meats". The Meyers were joined by the food appreciations of Nicholas Thickett (nthickett.wordpress.com) and Debra Ward (edmontonambassador.wordpress.com). What a great group of Edmonton's finest!
PS. Why YES... that may just be the world's largest potato masher in Corey's hands!
Dinnertime arrived and the family style dining room was FULL... Clearly the smell of turkey roasting all day called to the masses! (And the House has lots of 'out patient' families right now, which makes a big difference in dinner attendance). The turkey was devoured, with just enough left for the next day's soup initiatives (more to follow later in the post!), the salad was gone down to the last green bean, and there was very little of all meal components left over. (Can there BE a better compliment to the kitchen??!!)
The House families were able to decompress over a hearty home cooked meal, and our "Foodie" guests were able to enjoy a meal with our families, furthering their knowledge of and exposure to the culture and miracles of RMHNA.
"Check out Local4Local4Local for an experience that will change your life. Words can't describe the feeling...
As we enjoyed each other's company in the kitchen, we were joined by some of the House Heroes: our group met a 'Warrior Mom' from Newfoundland whose daughter is fighting congenital heart disease. Their family has been using the services of RMHNA since 2006 (pre-expansion, when we served only 16 families as compared to our present 32, AND there was no 'Home for Dinner' program). She expressed her heart felt gratitude at our Edmonton Community showing such care for the families at RMHNA through dinner; in her world, it allows her an excuse to leave her daughter's bedside for an hour or two, and forces her to care for her own health with a nutritious home cooked dinner. Another 'Warrior Mom' came and was introduced; her little guy is also fighting a congenital heart disorder and the last few weeks have been extremely harrowing. She, also, shared just how appreciated the program is, and thanked Local4Local4Local for its frequent contribution. Last but certainly not least, we were joined often by the sweet little 22 month old Sophia. She LOVED to hang out with us in the kitchen. LOVED to see what was cookin' in the big pots, LOVED to come and bless us with her blue eyed, beautiful little smiling face, and we LOVED to have her near. She stole not only the show... but our hearts. She is waiting the arrival of her new baby brother, who also is arriving into the world with a congenital heart defect. And she is a RAY OF SUNSHINE for her family in the most difficult times of waiting. At the end of the evening we received this thank you note from our little friend; suffice it to say that this will be a permanent treasure in the Local4Local4Local library.
Approximately 35% of the families who visit Ronald McDonald House Northern Alberta have a child in cardiac care...
The next day saw Local4Local4Local in the kitchen again ~ this time the mission was SOUP! There is a new program being "cooked up" at RMHNA which promises to extend the donations of the community that supports the 'Home for Dinner' program as Local4Local4Local does. In its beginning stages, this program, affectionately known as 'Soup Group' thus far, takes leftovers from the Home for Dinner Program and turns them into comforting and hearty soups which can then be delivered to the House families as they spend time with their child in care at Stollery Hospital. The outcome? More meals served to House families, less cost to House families that would normally purchase lunch from the hospital cafeteria, likely better food quality for those same families, and better use of donated resources with less waste!WIN! WIN! WIN!
Local4Local4Local is looking forward to having an ongoing role in this program; it will be perfect for our businesses who can financially only afford one dinner service for the year, but have the desire to be more invested and involved (average cost of soup supplies is $20-$30 due to the use of leftovers). It will also be a great fit for our larger corporate partners who desire a team buiding volunteer opportunity during work hours.
Warmest thanks to L4L4L Member Linda Patterson of Timeless Edge Photography (www.timelessedge.com) and friend of L4L4L, Annette Hedley, for their help in preparing the two soups. We were able to create a homemade turkey noodle soup from our leftovers the previous day AND a chili bean soup. Cargill in Spruce Grove is also a very big supporter of RMHNA (they do a monthly Home for Dinner corporately AND offer their employees the choice to make donations automatically from their paycheques) and they had cooked a BIG batch of chili recently. We were THRILLED to be able to extend their dinner kindness into lunch kindness for House families.
The most wonderful part of 'Soup Group'? The families are given notice of soup availability and selection the day before and can ORDER lunch to their room at the Stollery / Mazankowski hospitals... and we deliver it right to them! Not only do we deliver lunch... we deliver smiles, hugs, and messages of comfort to our hospital bound little House Heroes and their families. Honestly? Doesn't get any better than THAT...
Almost 300 meals (based on three meals per day) per year are covered by the 'Home for Dinner' (& breakfast & lunch) program. Our mission as an organization is to help the House see 3 meals per day times 365 days per year COVERED.
After lunch delivery, it was time for a TEA PARTY! It just so happened that Erin Isfeld, News Anchor for Edmonton's CTV News came to the House to have a Tea Party with our little 'Superheroes'. Erin will be emceeing this Saturday's Storybook Ball with CISN Radio Personality, Chris Scheetz. Erin dropped by not only for tea, but also to film a spot for the news to promote the Family Friendly Fundraiser Gala: Storybook Ball. How CUTE are all of these little House Heroes, all in super costumes, enjoying a laugh with the gracious Erin Isfeld? TOO CUTE, that's how cute!
Thank you to the time and talent of L4L4L Member Linda Patterson of Timeless Edge Photography who stepped outside of 'soup duty' to capture some sweet, sweet images of the tea party...
Last Wednesday was an epic day. It was a day that I had anticipated and feared, all at the same time. It was the fruition of a dream brought to life: my dream of being of good service to an incredibly worthy charitable organization, and of inspiring others to do the same. I feared many things: speaking at the event (without weeping ~ this journey is near to my heart, as a mother and as a heart-driven business woman), failure in procuring all 24 needed businesses to begin the journey, and most of all, the weight of upholding the reputations of all of the businesses on board weighed very heavily.
And so it was that the big day arrived... and it was not without incident. I was in a car accident that day, our chef for the evening, Elaine (don't worry ~ I'll come back to her in a moment) had lost power in her commercial kitchen that day ~ it was a day where Murphy and his crazy laws ruled the roost!
My vision for the evening was that the business representatives would arrive and mingle, getting to know each other a little before eventually meeting in the kitchen, be taken on a tour of the house, and realize fully how important they are to the process. People arrived, many of whom I had never met outside of emails and telephone calls, and it was somewhat stilted. Not a whole lot of mingling.
Then the amazing Jen Panteluk, the evening's representative for the house, took all but a few of us (who - except for our chef, Elaine, had already been on a tour) through the amazing house in its entirety. They saw the kitchens, family rooms, games room, exercise area, underground parkade, family suites, mother's rooms, quilt room, and 'magic room'. (Want to know about the magic room? Reply to this blog post!) Suffice it to say that the group of Local4Local4Local business people that returned after the tour were a different group. The question of "WHY" am I here? had been answered, and you could almost see the sleeves rolling up in preparation to get into the kitchen and get cooking!
Speaking of the kitchen... one of our on board businesses is Allium Foodworks, a personal chef service operated by Elaine Wilson. Elaine kindly provided our DIVINE and tasty treats for the evening... which, again, we will revisit.
My children, Owen aged 9 and a half and Amanda aged 5 and a half, attended the evening with my husband. It was such a great feeling to have them there. Amanda was born premature, and her arrival was not without incident. Our short 10 day stay in NICU following her birth was challenging. 10 days. There are families that have been at the house for 10 months. 10 months. Perspective.
The individuals attending the function each introduced themselves,
shared their business functions, and shared WHY they chose to participate in Local4Local4Local. It was where the proverbial rubber hit the road. Many shared how they felt as parents touring the house, and feeling such empathy for the families in crises that the house's four walls enclose. Some spoke ~ with tears ~ of their own experiences with children who had suffered illness or crisis, and as a result they were able to empathize very strongly. Still others just shared the passion of insight into what other human beings face as their 'reality' and for which we hold them as heroes and wish to make life just a little easier.
My children also granted some humour to the evening. Upon completion of the tour, Jen Panteluk asked the group if they had any questions below returning downstairs. Amanda piped up, and said "I will give this tour FIVE out of FIVE stars!"... Then after I had finished my verbal presentation, I also asked if anybody had questions before we made our way into the kitchen for treats. My son put his hand up, and when I asked him to speak up, he spouted out "Kristi Hammond, can we please eat now?"... Comic relief is always appreciated.
Back to the kitchen... after my long speech, in which I set out some protocol and policy for our organization (read: DRY) we FINALLY got to 'Mangia!' on some delicious and delectable treats (which I helped to prepare!!) by the incredibly talented and humorous Elaine Wilson of Allium Foodworks. She served red bean empanadas (YUM!!), pesto, beef, and cheese baguette bites, crudites and dip, dark chocolate fudge and black bean brownies, and some refreshing punch. We ate well.
While all of this was going on, a few families of the house were also hanging out alongside us. Their presence and reality were a reminder through the evening as to WHY we were there. I fell head over heels for MORE RMHNA little people: Baby E who has undergone heart surgery and is a sweet little cherub who offers smiles and coos a-plenty. Baby D who has undergone a FIVE organ transplant, and whom I was able to cuddle at the end of the evening, tubes and all, as he smiled, coo'd, and pulled at my earring. And my little friend, D, who is recovering from a liver transplant and is now inexplicably wheelchairbound as he suffers from 'doctor puzzling' back spasms. He is wise far beyond his years, matter of fact about his physical condition, and wants nothing more than to experience a 'normal' day.
And so it is that our journey officially begins. We are 24 local businesses, who are coming together in groups of three, once per month, to make a small difference in the lives of families living at The Ronald McDonald House Northern Alberta. We are committed to supporting our local economy by buying all food for our dinners from local sources as much as possible. We are committed to doing well by doing good. We are committed to being ambassadors of the house and its families as well as of each other.
And we are committed to make a difference. Together.