Kay Kuehn, Exec. Director
The Many Tasks of a Job
Over time I have had to adapt in my job to become a grant writer for Open Hands Midway. This is an incredibly time consuming, challenging, exciting, and at the same time, often frustrating thing to do. I did NOT go to school to learn this task. Grant opportunities come across my email, I hear of them by word of mouth, or I just simply start exploring various organization who appear to have food and meal programs as a primary focus for grants. I was once told by a person who formerly did financial work at Open Hands Midway that I could not write grants because I did not have the knowledge or skill it takes to do it. I was rather shocked to hear those words and I think I let them define me, I began to believe them. Then I began writing grants AND Open Hands Midway began being awarded many grants over the past few years. At a recent board of meeting one of our members stated, 'I would just like to say that I am amazed at the various grants that you have located to support our work and mission. You have done a great job and I think we need to acknowledge it!' I had to pause for a moment as I did not need the acknowledgement but then I thought about her words. To me it is just another aspect of my job and does not necessarily need praise. But then I took time to think about the many hours it takes looking for the funding opportunities, read the criteria of each grant, write each grant, often rewrite each grant, meet with potential funders who would like a site visit, submit grants, and hope and pray we are an organization they feel good about supporting. You may wonder what some of our grants have help fund. A few examples new cold storage equipment (freezers and refrigerators); a new steam table; food shelf equipment; food for our food shelf; and recently a capacity grant which will be used to install a new floor in our kitchen. I presently have two grants out for review by the organizations I submitted them to and two grants on my desk which I am working to complete before September 4, no pressure, just sayin'... Operating a not for profit organization is a large task, especially when funding can be hard to come by. Open Hands Midway is not afraid to ask for your help in supporting the work we do each and every day for our guests. It can never hurt to ask. This is why I would like to share with you a story from one of our guests, I will call her Joan, to let you know about the impact Open Hands Midway is making in our community. Let me share this with you with Joan's exact words: “I started coming to Open Hands Midway during the summer of 2020. I come here because my social security allowance does not meet my expenses, I am now 70 and have a friend living with me who has cancer. Open Hands Midway lunches are varied and delicious, an emotional as well as financial boost, the gift of a personal meal! I find community here. Open Hands Midway recipients talk while waiting in line, just enough not to feel so alone. The staff and volunteers giving out the food are friendly and non-judgmental, patient to answer our questions. It is educational and healthful to try some of the new foods they let us chose from that come from Kowalski’s Market. I so appreciate this and go home and get creative to use everything on time! The folks at Open Hands Midway work hard to pick up, store and safely distribute the foods made available. People talk about this or that food programs in this or that suburb. No good for me, I stay close to home as I can’t drive at night. This is an excellent, efficiently run program that makes a big difference in our lives.” In a perfect world money would not be an stumbling point to anything anyone does. Reality is often that it can be. Every time I receive a donation from one of our stakeholders in the mail, or see an online donation has been made, I smile. I smile because I know there are wonderful people (like you reading this) who find it in their heart to freely give so others, like Joan, may freely receive, just sayin'... Last month we held our 7th annual 'Chip in Against Hunger' golf and dinner outing. I would like to offer my thanks to Kathy, Sue, Tom, Dona, Jean, Dick, and Ric for volunteering their time to help with registration, selling string & mulligans, monitoring the hole-in-one contest and setting up the dinning room and silent auction. It was a great day, a great meal, a fun auction raising money for our meal and food programs, and for me personally, a great opportunity to share the Open Hands Midway story with people who attended for the first time. We have already set the date for 2023 as we look forward to hosting our 8th annual 'Chip in Against Hunger' event so mark your calendar for Sunday, July 30 at Applewood Hills Golf Course. Hope to see you there! Anyone who knows me knows that I like to live life on the lighter side, to laugh, to have fun, to be creative and to share that with others. I was recently on a bike ride with a friend where we biked to William O'Brien State Park, locked up our bikes and did some hiking of the many beautiful trails. While hiking I said to my friend, "So Tater Tot is Mr. Potatoheads kid. Do you think Potato Chip is another one?" I sensed my friend wondering why on earth I would think of that as we hiked this gorgeous park. Then my friend said, "Why did you suddenly think of that?" To which I replied, "Well you know how my mind works." We both laughed. Then my friend said, "What about Potato Pancake?" Of course we went in many directions with this very deep discussion ultimately deciding on Tater Tot, Potato Chip, Potato Cake being Mr. Potatoheads kids with their relatives being Potato Pancake, Hashbrown Potato, Baked Potato, French Fry and Mashed Potato.
You know life is too short to be too serious, just sayin'...