Youth Volunteer Interview: Helena Vanderbeck

HMCP: Why did you join Healing Meals?

HV: I originally joined Healing Meals because my mother went to the first volunteer night, thinking Healing Meals was mostly going to be for adults, but when she found out it was a youth based organization, she came home and told me about it.  I have always had an interest in medicine and helping others as it relates to they health, so immediately I became intrigued, and so, on the very first shift Healing Meals had, I showed up ready to work and became automatically hooked.  The working environment was so positive and happy that I suddenly forgot all my problems outside of Healing Meals, and knew that this would be something that I would be involved in for a long time.

HMCP: You’ve been involved in so many aspects of Healing Meals, what have you enjoyed the most about the experience?

HV: Every shift I attended for Healing Meals for the first two months was amazing and I loved every second of it; however, I began to really understand the effects of what I was doing on one hot July day. I walked in for a cooking shift and went to the circle where we did introductions and talked about who we were cooking for that week. This was the first time I had a letter read to me from one of the clients, and as Sarah read it aloud, I was finally able to have a perspective on just how strong of an effect we were having on the clients. Now not only was Healing Meals an amazing experience, but it had a deeper purpose that made the experience just that much better. Now, with every cook shift, prep shift, packaging shift, and Nourishing Our Neighbors dinner party, I remember the letter I read that day, and how this experience is not only a great part of my life, but a great part of lives around me.

HMCP: Has volunteering at Healing Meals changed you in any way?

HV: Absolutely. I have a strong passion for medicine, and for years and years I have looked at the healing process as solely a relationship between a doctor and a patient. With Healing Meals, I understand that sickness has so many different aspects, and that what goes on at home has such a large effect on the process. Healing Meals has given me perspective on how much a strong support system along with a healthy diet can help somebody suffering from a health crisis along with their family. I now know that what goes on at a hospital is such a small part of somebody’s healing, and have applied that to my own life too. Whenever I hear of somebody who’s close to me or their family suffering from a health crisis, I am sure to provide as much support as needed (and always point them in the direction of Healing Meals for that added support!).

HMCP: What other activities are you involved in?

HV: I dance at Nutmeg’s Dance and Theatre Co., I am a ski instructor at Ski Sundown, I run cross country at Simsbury High School, and this summer I will be a volunteer at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. Also this summer I will be fortunate enough to be interning at Healing Meals along with my volunteering!

HMCP: What is your favorite food?

HV: I want to start out by saying that my least favorite food for the past 16 years has been zucchini, and I would refuse to eat anything that had to do with it. That is, of course, until I tried the zucchini “meat”balls at a Healing Meals dinner party for the first time. Now, without a doubt, this is my absolute favorite food. I would choose it over ice cream.

HMCP: How do you like to spend your free time?

HV: I’m a cross country runner, so I love going on runs with my dog in the woods. I also love relaxing in my backyard drinking tea and reading a romantic novel in the summer, and skiing in the winter.

HMCP: What year are you in school?

HV: I am a rising senior in high school.

Thank you, Helena, for all you do to support our clients and uphold the great energy of our organization.

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