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Community cooks up a stress-reliever for Tall Pines staff

By Sarah E. Reynolds | May 11, 2020
Source: Hospice Volunteers of Waldo County Facebook page A Tall Pines staff member gazes at the bounty of home-prepared meals made by members of Belfast-area church groups to support stressed health care workers.

Belfast — A visit to Tall Pines by two women hoping to offer help to staff members while they were going through the recent outbreak of COVID-19 there has resulted in an outpouring of home-cooked meals.

Flic Shooter, coordinator of volunteers for Hospice Volunteers of Waldo County, said she and the Rev. Jean Ashland, chaplain at Waldo County General Hospital, went to the nursing and residential facility to see how they could help in the midst of the outbreak. "It was very harrowing for everybody," she said. Nurses, certified nursing assistants and everyone else were working long, exhausting days under the stress of dealing with a potentially deadly illness.

When Shooter asked staff members if it would be helpful to be able to take home a homemade meal they could heat up for dinner, the response was enthusiastic, she said. With many people spending their days at home, often with little to do, she had no trouble recruiting volunteers to prepare food. Several churches organized members to make meals that could be easily reheated at home, she said. They include St. Margaret's Episcopal Church, St. Francis of Assisi Church, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Belfast, Belfast United Methodist Church, Sandy Point Congregational Church in Stockton Springs, Belfast Friends, and First Congregational Church of Searsport. Hospice volunteers make sure the meals get picked up and delivered to Tall Pines.

Shooter said Hannaford, the Belfast Co-op and the Belfast Soup Kitchen donated containers for the food, and MacLeod's Furniture donated a refrigerator for Tall Pines to keep the meals in until staff members are ready to take them home. Forty to 60 meals are delivered around noon, six days a week, so all staff members can enjoy them. "It's delicious, home-cooked food," she said.

Shooter noted that Tall Pines often becomes like an extension of residents' families, and it was hard for staff members not to be able to touch residents as they normally would. She said she felt it was especially important to recognize the contributions of CNAs, whom she feels sometimes get lost when health care heroes are celebrated.

She is proud of the way so many people have contributed to making the effort to support Tall Pines staff members a success. "This was a really beautiful outpouring of caring from the community to the support people at Tall Pines," she said.

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