One of my fondest memories is the time I spent at our local B. Thomas Golisano Hope Lodge. The reason we initially got involved was because of my wife. My wife’s family was enduring some health issues involving cancer and she fought back by joining the local American Cancer Society in the Relay for Life. I tried to be supportive as best I could and there was an opportunity to help them at the Hope Lodge where they were making dinner for the guests and their caregivers/family. I immediately felt connected and called to this because of my love of food, food knowledge and the belief that food can help heal.
The experience was beyond rewarding. I planned meals, bought the food, prepared it, served it and was able to fellowship while enjoying it. Being able to talk to the people was a big deal for me and anyone who joined me. It was amazing to see the way people from all walks of life could come together over 2 things. Good food and a good “fight”.
The truth is, I am positive I was impacted in ways I never imagined and probably came away with far more than I gave. I’m so thankful that I participated in this. While I would never wish cancer on anyone, in hindsight, I’m thankful God orchestrated these events.
The most important thing I learned is God can use you where you’re at. You have something very special and needed right now. Step out and use it. You’ll be glad you did.
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” – Winston Churchill
“not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” -Philippians 2:4
I remember it like it was yesterday. My wife and I were at our church, Bethel Christian Fellowship. A young lady, Nicole, whom my wife was getting fairly close to, was sitting behind us when our pastor said there was a special last minute announcement. He asked Nicole to come up and share it. She said they were in a transitional period at an orphanage our church was helping to support through our missions giving. Nicole said they were putting a team together to go to Malawi, Africa and they needed people to come to help in many ways including loving on more than 50 kids.
I have helped plan and cook meals for the Hope Lodge. It is a lodge where cancer patients stay in while undergoing treatment. It was very rewarding in that it is great to see people who have had trouble eating for weeks come up for seconds of your food because it’s been so long since they’ve tasted home cooking. I have also given regularly to Resolve Rochester which is a charity used to help victims of domestic violence. As a child of divorce who has seen the struggles people dealing with domestic abuse go through, it makes me glad to know I’m providing some sort of assistance.
I love volunteering. Over the years I have participated in various organizations from helping at risk youth, to planting gardens, to raising awareness for AIDS, alcohol and substance abuse, to raising funding for cancer research, to raising awareness for animal cruelty, to sharing God’s love with little children, to helping families and individuals in poverty, to cooking healthy food for cancer patients and their caregivers. Every single experience has been rewarding in the fact that the impact it has had has been long lasting. I’ve learned a great deal about humility, compassion, the importance of living a healthy lifestyle, among many other lessons. You know, you go into the organization or the challenge thinking you’re going to help change a life, enhance a life. But the reality is, is that, yes, you do have an impact on their lives, but the life that changes is truly your own.
In addition to working with Hilton Advisory to cook dinners for the families at the B. Thomas Golisano Hope Lodge Hospitality house, which provides lodging for cancer, trauma, and organ transplant patients and their caregivers. I also use my experience in professional wrestling to teach and mentor students, as well as donating my time to events that raise money for a number of different causes. I mean, what’s the point of having a skill like that, if you aren’t using it in a meaningful way?