By Jessica Searcy Kmetty
Millions of cancer patients are left to fend for themselves during this turning point in their lives. The Joy Bus will relieve the burden put on families during this time by providing healthy meals specified to meet our patron’s needs. The Joy Bus delivers not only quality meals to your doorstep but compassion and a smiling face. – The Joy Bus
The Joy Bus is a non-profit that partners with the Phoenix community to deliver high quality, chef inspired, medically tailored meals each Friday to homebound cancer patients.
My husband, Chris and I got involved with the Joy Bus when their non-profit diner opened up a few years ago. One of Chris’ high school classmates, Jennifer Caraway, founded The Joy Bus. Her friend Joy was sick with cancer and Jennifer found that delivering fresh, healthy meals to her was one way to help Joy’s spirit and body stay strong. Joy ultimately lost her battle to cancer, and The Joy Bus was founded in her honor.
Chris and I are both foodies. On the weekends, you’ll typically find us smoking meats and hosting barbeques or checking out one of the local restaurants. Neither of us are big fans of chain restaurants and prefer to find small venues with outstanding food. I guess you could say that we fell in love over food, and farmers market dates, and cooking. The first time our children met each other was over lunch at The Joy Bus Diner, so it holds a special personal meaning for our family too.
After our first visit to The Joy Bus Diner, we knew we wanted to get more involved, so Chris and I both got food handlers licenses so that we could go help prepare food at the diner.
The diner depends on lots of volunteers each week; they pick up donated produce from a local farm (Crooked Sky Farms), prep food, make bread, seat tables, roll silverware, and other duties as assigned. And all of the meals prepped on Fridays for patients are delivered in bags that are both decorated and delivered by volunteers.
100% of the proceeds of the diner go to The Joy Bus charity.
Photo Credit: The Joy Bus
In August 2017 when we were actively losing Chris’ mom to cancer and the whole family was at the hospital saying their goodbyes, we called in a lunch order to the diner for pickup. When we showed up, the compassion that Jennifer and Lisa showed to us was so appreciated. They even snuck a little cherry pie with a heart in the bag for me, knowing it would lift my spirits (see photo). Their hugs and kind words, and thoughtfulness during such a difficult time, were amazing!
The Joy Bus adds (and loses) patients almost weekly, and the need is so great. Having been on the receiving end of their love and concern, even briefly, compelled us to do even more. Each patient meal costs approximately $10 to prep and deliver, so we also now support The Joy Bus in our ongoing monthly giving.
Earlier this year, Chris was asked to join the board of directors for The Joy Bus. There are so many fundraising events that happen each year and we’ve been blessed to be a part of several of them:
- The pie eating contest each November is a raffle ticket fundraiser where you buy raffle tickets and drop them in the basket for the Joy Bus Diner employee you think will win the pie eating contest. The fastest pie eater then picks raffle tickets for prize winners.
- The AZCentral Food & Wine Experience is a fun event. In 2018, The Joy Bus was the charity chosen to benefit from the silent auction held at the festival.
- Monthly, various local restaurants partner with The Joy Bus and select an item on their menu, or create a special item. Whenever someone orders that item, the profits are donated to The Joy Bus. Chris and I are always on the lookout for restaurants who want to partner.
- 12 Bars of Charity happens in December, and $10-15 of the cost of each ticket goes to The Joy Bus when you register for that charity to receive the proceeds.
We are also able to support The Joy Bus by donating through our Amazon Smile purchases and purchasing donated items. Some of the partners who donate items to the diner include:
- Jammin Jan’s Jams – Jan donates all kinds of jams and fruit butters for use at the diner and also for people to purchase (for donation). Some of my favorites are vanilla pear, blueberry lavender, apricot, and apple butter. And with 6 kids, we go through a lot of jam on our toast!
- Tracy Dempsey Originals – Tracy donates brownies that are out of this world and come in gift packaging. They get sold (for donation) very quickly but we’ve been lucky to snag a few of them over the last year or so.
Even though this a local charity and the brain child of a seemingly “normal, everyday” person who saw a need a desired to do something about it, Jennifer is pretty awesome and an accomplished chef. Earlier this year, in March, she won Food Network’s Chopped (season 37 episode 8). It was pretty cool to watch and she won $10,000 for The Joy Bus!
Are you interested in getting involved? Here are some ways you can learn more or volunteer:
Visit the Website: https://www.thejoybusdiner.com/
Sign up to deliver a Joy Bus Meal: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/10c0d45a5ac29aaf94-meal
Host a shift in The Joy Bus Diner: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/60b054ca8af2ea1fc1-hosthostess
Be a Prep Cook in The Joy Bus Diner: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/60b054ca8af2ea1fc1-prep
Pick up Produce from Crooked Sky Farms: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/60b054ca8af2ea1fc1-produce
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Published for the blog on November 27, 2018 by Searcy Financial Services, your Overland Park, Kansas Fee-Only Financial Planner and Investment Manager.