Free meals

Julie Kilpatrick, of the Kiwanis Club of the Colorado River, and Aileen Martinez, of Living Waters Hospice, bag up meals to be delivered to area hospice and home health patients.

BULLHEAD CITY — Three local hospices, three local restaurants and two service organizations have banded together to take care of the most vulnerable citizens in this uncertain time.

“It all started when Hospice of Havasu, Billet Home Health and Hospice and Living Waters Hospice all got together to provide dry, sanitary goods to our shut-ins,” said Maria Pynakker of Living Waters Hospice. 

“We got donations from Harrah’s and a lot of individuals just dropping stuff off. Then we found out that Anita (Gill of Javalina’s) wanted to do meals, so she contacted me and we got together on Saturday and went over a plan. And now we’re executing our plan. Because we already serve the hospice and home health patients who can’t get out and buy their own food, and we’ve done this on a larger scale before, it just made sense to team up and pool our resources.” 

Amy Devine, of Hospice of Havasu, got the ball rolling with the donation of a pallet of sanitary items from Harrah’s Laughlin. Those supplies were taking up a good portion of the lobby of Javalina’s as they prepared to package everything up.

“So what will happen is if we know people are in need, other than the hospice connections, we’ll also throw in a roll of toilet paper and what-not,” said Gill. 

The plan was that Gill would take care of cooking and packaging up meals on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and help get them distributed. She began that on Monday with chicken and rice soup.

“And it’s delicious!” Gill added. The meal also comes with either peach or apple cobbler as long as it lasts.

“It’s been great,” Gill said. “We have stuff coming in. Patrick Hennessey from Home Depot contributed a meal. Donations are rolling in from Baron Pest Control, Fairway Constructors, Culver’s to name a few. Javalina’s donated the first meal for today, but there is so much coming in.”

John Hassett and Firehouse also have contacted Gill to help with preparing the meals, as well as the Bullhead City Florist to help deliver. Hassett, along with Mehdi Azarmi, from Fairway Constructors, and Matt Hanrahan also are part of the Sunrise Rotary Club where Gill is president. 

“In order for the food and everything to get done,” Pynakker added, “Anita needed buy-in from her Sunrise Rotary Club. We certainly couldn’t do this without their help.”

“I sent an email out and the executive board approved it immediately,” Gill added. “A lot of our donations are coming from our members. In fact, I received a couple hundred dollars today from Baron Pest and Matt Hanrahan, the founder of our Rotary Club.”

The list of people receiving the food and sanitary goods are, for now, mostly patients of the hospices and home health agencies stretching from Kingman and Golden Valley all the way through Laughlin, Bullhead City and down to Mohave Valley and Topock. While they currently are mostly hospice and home health patients, Gill made sure to say that they are looking for anybody who is struggling.

“We’re getting inundated right now with messages,” said Gill, “and we want all inquiries that don’t go through Maria and (Living Waters) Hospice to go through our Rotary Facebook page, because that’s the only way we can control it. Even though we are working with Living Waters, Billet and Hospice of Havasu, it is open to all the agencies in our area. Their objective is just to make sure that everyone is fed and healthy.”

“Isn’t it weird?” added Pynakker. “Having Living Waters Hospice, Billet Home Health and Hospice and Hospice of Havasu working together. And we have reached out to each and every home health and hospice and have been contacted by a majority of them who do want to participate in the program. (There are) no boundaries.”

The process starts by the different agencies contacting Gill or Pynakker by 10 a.m. in the morning with a number of meals that they need. Gill and her people will cook it, prepare it, package it and wait for the delivery people to show up. They never know names or addresses of those who will be receiving the meals, as directed by HIPAA laws.

Gill asked that people interested in donating contact her or the Sunrise Rotary Club and that the best idea is to not go out and purchase new food, but instead, if you don’t have the food already to donate, donate money so they can purchase what they need from the appropriate companies. 

“Or go to Smart & Final and tell them ‘Hey, here’s $100 for Anita and her team to come buy stuff,’ ” Gill added. “That’s fine too. We do have to hand pick, unfortunately.”

Gill and Pynakker still are looking for sanitary supplies as well, including gloves, paper towels and bags for the meals. 

Another partner is the Anderson Auto Group Fieldhouse, which has volunteered its refrigerators and freezers for storing donations.

“The whole community is coming together,” Gill added. “We are competitors, but we are coming together. We have a lot of the same work ethics in common, and we think we’re aligned when it comes to helping the community, so it makes us all happy to be able to come together to do this for our area.”

Remember that while they need donations, don’t just show up at Javalina’s with food as it still is a business trying to take care of its own customers via the drive-through and is not set up to do both. Pynakker can be reached at 928-444-7401, and the Sunrise Rotary Facebook page is www.facebook.com/sunriserotaryfortmohave/.

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