- by Kay Kuehn, Executive Director
Sadness and Joy
As I write this I do so with a heavy heart. On Friday, November 22 my dear sweet mother, Pat, completed her earthly life and was welcomed into the loving arms of her Lord and Savior. I am very much at a loss as are my father and sisters. There are moments of intense grief and moments of great joy in the memories we have of this dear woman. A friend told me "Pat's presence filled a room." She was an outgoing, fun loving, faith filled woman who could do anything, make everyone feel important, and loved by many. My father, her husband of 64 years, is struggling and lost. Since 2004 her life was changed by Alzheimer's disease. For the past 8 years she lived in a memory care facility and he would spend nearly every afternoon with her.
I spent as many weekends or evening with her as I could and made so many wonderful memories. She taught us patience, love and joy in amidst this horrible disease. We grieved as the days took a little more of her away from us. But we learned a lot and loved a lot also. Now our family must adjust to this 'new normal' and right now we are not sure what that is. I simply ask your prayers of peace and if you see me I am a hugger so I LOVE hugs, the more the better. I will always be so proud that I had such a great lady as a mother, especially as I have been hearing from some of our friends just how special she was and what she meant to them, just sayin'... Now let me shift gears to joy. On Tuesday, November 4 I got to work as usual. After I ate my breakfast I logged into my email to start the day. The first one I saw had a subject line of 'Positive Change February 2020'. At first I thought, oh no, something political. Then I remembered applying to Mississippi Market for their Positive Change program funding back in the spring. So I opened the email and I could hardly believe it when I read the opening line that said, 'Dear Kay, Thank you for your recent application to Mississippi Market's Positive Change program. I am pleased to announce that Open Hands Midway has been selected as the February 2020 Positive Change recipient.' I literally hollered "OH MY GOSH!" I quickly replied to the email and then talked to Natalie at Mississippi Market to learn more. This is such a great thing for Open Hands. When we originally applied they asked when would be the best time to be a recipient. We stated summer as that is typically our busiest time of the year and most expensive for us as well. After the summer passed and the fall passed, I emailed my friend Barbara who was instrumental in helping us apply for this funding. I asked her what she thought and she said that she felt there was still a chance. Well she was right and we couldn't be happier. February will be a fun time for me to spend at their stores sharing our story and seeing the impact it has on the shoppers at their stores. If you are here during February volunteering you will have to ask me about it, just sayin'... Our Board of Directors had a great time taking part in a vision retreat during the month of October. This was a time spent reviewing where Open Hands has been, where we are now and what we will focus on for the near future of the organization. As we discussed the dynamics of our neighborhood changing, we realized our need to also change. For us this means permanently eliminating the Kids' Club program and the Back to School Carnival we have held for many years. We also identified what our organization slogan is. Think of this in terms of Subway, their slogan is 'Eat Fresh'. The slogan of Open Hands is 'Freely we Receive, Freely we Give.' This slogan has been added under our logo on our website, this newsletter, our letterhead and anywhere our logo is or will be presented. There was much more to this retreat but those things will be revealed when and if they need to be. For now just know that the Open Hands Board of Directors is an amazing group of people who have a passion to uphold the mission of the organization. Serving meals, getting people access to food either at our meal program or our emergency food shelf is the axis of our program. It's what we do and we hope we are doing it well. From myself, our cook Steve and the entire Open Hands Board of Directors we wish you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas and a blessed 2020, just sayin'...