Fisher House Volunteers Impact Families

By: Toni Gross, Tampa VA Fisher House Volunteer
December 14, 2018

I have been volunteering at the Tampa VA Fisher House since my son was killed in Afghanistan more than six years ago.  But this story isn’t about me.  It’s a story about another volunteer who heartened an entire family and made one of their worst days more bearable.

One recent evening, Miss Kim Providenti and her father, Tony, bought and prepared a meal consisting of four homemade meat loaves, a 12-pound ham, creamy mac and cheese, green bean casserole, and much, much more.

I am always grateful to the volunteers who provide these meals...sometimes, though, there are those ordinary meals that become extraordinary, because the meal was made with love and care and because of the reaction of those enjoying the meal.

This combination was exactly what happened on this evening.

A family of five entered the kitchen, following the wonderful smells.  I welcomed them to the "Fisher House Feast" and explained to them a little about who provided the meal and the meal selections on the counter. They were quiet and there was a solemn air about them. 

The mother of the family, her sister, and her two adult children and a nephew filled their plates and disappeared into the dining room. I did not think too much about it. They were new to the Fisher House and I had not seen them before.  

Minutes later, one of the daughters came into the kitchen and said, "My father passed away three hours ago. My mother and father had been married for 62 years. Before we walked into the kitchen this evening, after my father's ‘final salute’ at his bedside, we had no idea where we were going to eat." 

She was crying at this point and said that the Fisher House meal had been totally unexpected. It provided a quiet place of comfort to spend time with family together as they began their grief journey.  By then the mother came into the kitchen, she was a petite little lady, and tears streaming down her face. She let me know that she, too, was so grateful for the meal and place of quiet refuge. Her daughter tenderly helped her back into the community dining area where the family enjoyed the pumpkin cheesecake for dessert. 

Well, as you can imagine, I was in tears too.  I was grateful to have been there to witness how the Fisher House made such a difference in the lives of this family. It's times like this, when the unexpected happens, I believe it to be a "God Hug."