Rachel Cobbs, Woodside
We caught up with Rachel Cobbs to find out more about how she finds ways to help homebound elderly neighbors.
How did you get interested in helping seniors and individuals that are homebound?
I got interested in helping senior shut-ins when I was searching for a gleaning project with my kids Ry and Jack. I wanted them to have a real hands-on experience because the volunteer experiences we were doing weren’t getting them to be grateful the way I hoped; it was too abstract. They needed to be in the trenches to fully appreciate just how lucky they are. We started working with We Are Family DC and it shook me to the core. The clients looked so forward to our visits. We sat with them, looked at pictures of grandkids and got a gauge for how they were doing. Do they have heat? Air conditioning? Do they look sick and if something was amiss we checked in with the social workers and reported anyone who may need extra help.
How do you fit visits in with your busy life?
The boys’ schedules got too out of control to do weekly visits as a family, so I started searching within Silver Spring. Jack and Ry have celiac, an autoimmune disease that affects one out of 133 people. Food pantries rarely have any gluten-free foods and so I thought, here is the opening! I love to cook, feeding people is my love language. Bringing a meal to someone is such an authentic way to say “You mean something to me,” because you are thinking of that person from menu planning to purchasing ingredients to actually preparing the meal. As I cook for them I hold them in my heart. I pray for them and I hope I am feeding their appetite as much as serving them feeds my soul.
How do you learn about people who would like your help?
I get leads from sometimes seeing someone who is struggling, but mostly it is from Ruth Manchester, the outreach director at St. Luke.
What advice do you have for other busy families looking to creatively help others in our community?
Tap into something that is already established, like a food pantry and see if they have clients who have food sensitivities. Like next year for Casseroles for a Cause, I am going to ask if there are any people who have food restrictions and try to guide my casseroles to serve them.
We also hosted one of the area’s homeless men for Christmas last year and now he joins us for dinner at least every other month and for all holidays. All that takes is getting to know them.
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