Uncharted Territory

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Each new year of this business adventure seems to bring new, exciting experiences that keep me inspired. Last year we received a lot of media and marketing attention. This year a neighbor, who is working on her MBA, has asked to do her Capstone business analysis project on Support Suppers. While I’m very grateful and excited for the opportunity, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous to put ourselves out there and hear where we could do better.

While I was completing the online form to initiate the process, I had to reflect on some of the challenges we face as a business. I noted some pressing issues, all mostly business-related, one personal, but as I thought more about it, this business does not just face business challenges. We are a complicated business that treads in very personal and emotional territory. I know for a fact that when I was doodling menus and business plans in a notebook when Support Suppers was just a fun daydream, the emotional weight that might accompany it never crossed my mind. Let me explain.

A few weeks ago when my sister and I were in the kitchen divvying up the meal deliveries for the day, she pointed to one of the cards and asked “what’s the situation”, I sighed and shrugged my shoulders and replied “I don’t know, I’m trying not to know for a little while”. Her question was totally valid and normal, it’s good to know what you’re getting into when delivering to a stranger’s home. For example, if it’s a new baby meal we don’t ring the doorbell, we knock lightly and try not to stir up a commotion during delivery. And delivering is fun, I can honestly say that regardless of the situation, nobody’s been unhappy to see us when we come to the door with a big bag of homemade food. But when your business niche is helping people support one another through tough times, you are made hyper-aware of many of those tough times right here in our community, all around, all the time. You can’t help but feel a little bit of the weight of the situation when your job is to convey a message of love and support from the sender and distract the recipient, from sometimes a hard reality, with a great meal (no pressure, right?! 😉).

While the experience helps us gain a better perspective and more sincere empathy, it can also lead to unreasonable worry and shared sadness that spill into our personal lives. It’s one of those business problems I never saw coming and that I’m not sure has an easy textbook solution. It’s just something we have to navigate as we go. One thing for sure though is it’s not going to stop us. In fact, it’s hearing from the recipients of our meals that keep us motivated to keep pushing to move forward and get bigger and better.

Like this one, “I want to thank you for the wonderful meals being delivered to our home. [The recent passing of a family member] caused an outpouring of efforts by our family, friends and colleagues to make sure we had everything we needed during this trying time. Going beyond the necessary: Support Suppers has offered a wonderful dining experience within the confines of our home. The food is beautifully prepared, the ingredients fresh, the experience of fine dining is real, and the delivery is ‘high-tech’. Thank you for the care you take to make each meal a dining experience to remember.”

It simply amazes me that someone took time away from their busy life to write an email to me. All I did was take an order, cook the food and deliver it. It’s not from me, I don’t know them, but it still meant a lot to me. It confirmed also that the experience we set out create was happening in real life for real people in our community. So we’ll just keep on keeping on and take the bad with the good, maybe squeeze in some therapy when needed, because regardless of how it makes me feel, this is still the best job I’ve ever had, and at the end of the day it’s not about me, it never was.

We just posted dates and menus through the end of April. Check out what’s cooking at supportsuppers.com/order and during this lovey week of February, thank you for all of your love and Support.

Holiday Traditions

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This past weekends snowstorm, probably the closest we’ll ever get to a “white Christmas”, was nothing short of magical in our household. Since we knew the timing of the weather forecast, the boys were anxious to get to bed the night before, crossing their fingers and toes that the snow would come. When they woke up in the morning they shot over to the window and pulled open the blinds. There was no snow yet but they were still excited by the promise that it would be coming soon. I stayed in bed a little longer and my oldest busted through the bedroom door about an hour later and did the same thing to the blinds, this time announcing “MOM! LOOK!!!” as he exposed a beautiful snow white landscape out our front window. Since it was a weekend day, we all got to play outside as a family, going outside at least 2-3 times just on Sunday to sled, have snowball fights and just play.

Of course, the minor inconvenience of an extended weekend from school being closed had me trying to plan out activities so we all didn’t go stir-crazy. I figured we’d lay low on Monday giving the road crews time to clear everything and enjoy the rest of the snow before it melted and on Tuesday we would head down to Blackstone, VA to see the train display at the hardware store. The boys LOVE this display and with the drive to and from plus the hour or so they would spend circling the train display and picking out their small toy from the cash register, it would fill the entire day. Before getting ready, I did a quick google search just to make sure all was a go and discovered a message on the store's homepage “It is with much regret that we announce the trains at Bevell’s will not be running during the 2018 holiday season due to a major family illness. Thank you for understanding as the Daniels family works through this difficult time”.

The message weighed heavy on me for two reasons. Primarily, the thought of what the family must be going through to call off a season of a special, local tradition, and second, the disappointment my children would feel, and I’m sure the general sentiment of many people like us unconnected personally to the Daniels family other than by this holiday tradition, when I told them the news. I thought about it most of the morning, what the family must be going through personally, how inevitable the backlash of not doing something for the public that they’ve grown to love may have played a mental tug-of-war on the family as they made the decision, as much as I hoped it didn’t and wouldn’t. As if either by serendipity (or internet algorithms), this article showed up on the social media feed and I read it. What I’ve learned over the 19 Christmases since my husband died

It was not long ago that we experienced grief around the holidays. And let's face it, whether new grief and illness or the memory of another holiday season spent grieving or facing bad news, many of us and the people around us are facing this reality. They’re next to us in the long checkout line and looking for a parking spot in the crowded parking lots and putting a friendly smile on at the holiday party. And while there are very distinct religious reasons for the season, maybe a little empathy over giving and understanding over obligation should also be the genuine by-products that manifest during the holiday season.

While we will miss partaking in our little holiday tradition of seeing the trains in Blackstone this year, we wish many blessings of love and support to the Daniels family and the community of Blackstone, and to all of you who may be struggling to find joy in this very meaningful but often commercialized holiday season we wish you also much love and support. As always, we are thankful for the Support you’ve shown us this past year and for trusting us to show your friends and family some edible loving. We look forward to continuing to Support this community in the new year. Happy Holidays!

Grateful

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Greetings everyone! I know it’s been a little while since I’ve blogged so I just wanted to check in and say “Hi!” A lot has happened since my last post. Support Suppers celebrated it’s 2 year anniversary, I sent my first kiddo off to Kindergarten, we prepared for the first East Coast hurricane of the season, among many other things too. But as the seasons and our mindsets change I wanted to share some of these thoughts.

I am grateful for the Support this community has shown us over the last two years. You’ve restored my faith in humanity and showed me the kindness and compassion that you have for your loved ones. With your words and actions, I came to know an RVA that was different than the one I felt I knew before. If anyone is on the fence about how amazing this town is, give me a call, I can be very convincing and I have a lot of proof.

I am grateful that our community missed the wrath of Hurricane Florence, and am hopeful we don’t have to face another scare this season. I didn’t mind the crowds at Costco or the day off of school because I gained a weekend with my family where I didn’t have to worry about electricity or their safety, or spend my free time bailing water out of our basement and cleaning debris from our yard. I did a lot of cooking (and eating) this weekend, like the Butternut Squash Soup pictured above that was very distinctly NOT a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or cold canned spaghetti o’s like our neighbors to the South may be dining on right now. And I pray that those affected find the community support in their recovery the likes of RVA.

We have a tasty lineup of menus this week as well as our dates and menus for the rest of September and October. Check out what’s cooking and let us help you Support yourself or your loved ones with a delicious meal. Thank you for all of your Support and encouragement over the past two years.

Happy Mother's Day

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We hope that everyone enjoyed this beautiful Mother’s Day. We certainly had a fun-filled weekend laying low and getting some work done but still enjoying a certain amount of fun. 

On Saturday we headed to the South of the James farmers market for the first time this season. We picked up some Yoder’s Donuts, always a family favorite, fresh seafood and peanut and cashew butter from our friend and neighbor at Reginald’s Homemade. On Sunday the boys made me breakfast in bed and then we took a bike ride down to the University of Richmond to see all of the baby ducklings and goslings. This little turtle was our favorite find, but against my best efforts, my husband said we couldn’t bring him home :(.

This week we have two delicious menus to offer and we’ve also posted our dates and menus for June, July, and August. Be sure to follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for exciting news and adventures starting later this week and through the weekend. Thank you for your Support, Happy Mother’s Day!

Making Mother's Day

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Being a mother of two young kids myself, my daily activities usually involve being around and interacting with other mothers and grandmothers. Many times I will overhear conversations sharing easy recipes, or good places to grocery shop with quick, easy meals that kids will eat and adults can enjoy too. It’s amazing, but certainly not surprising how much energy we put on ourselves to provide healthy, tasty meals to nourish our families and how much of a dreaded chore it can feel like day after day.

I’m in a place now where preparing food is one of the top priorities in my life and it seems very effortless for me to make homemade, creative dishes quickly and easily. Even clean up doesn’t seem to take as much effort as I remembered it feeling like when my work days were long and stressful. So while the meme picture for this Blog post is meant to be funny, maybe there’s some truth for some Mom’s to want to take a day off from cooking.

While we don’t have any meals on the calendar for the actual day of Mother’s Day, our Gift Meals make a great gift for the women in your life to give themselves a “night off” during the weekdays. Our Gift Meal cards are usually mailed but to ensure that all Gift Meal orders placed as Mother’s Day gift arrive on time, we’ll hand deliver or email all Gift Meal card orders that come in after 5pm on Thursday, May 10, 2018 up until 9am Sunday, May 13, 2018.

As always, we have a tasty menu lined up for this week. Check out what’s cooking and let us help with the cooking this week. Thank you for your Support and Happy early Mother’s Day!

Lyrical Poets

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When I started this business, I knew that I would be serving a variety of situations, some joyful, some trying and some devastating. I made the decision to stay empathetic to the people we serve without becoming personally involved. We aren’t the ones sending the dinner after all, we are the link between two human connections supporting one another.

But since I do personally hand-write every personal message, I always read it in its entirety before writing it so I don’t make any careless mistakes copying the words. Some of y’all...cue the waterworks...y’all know just what to say and say it with such thoughtfulness, care and grace. And that’s no easy task. Sometimes I wonder if it just came to them on the first try or if they spent hours on our website writing, erasing and rewriting the message before placing their order.

I’m envisioning myself in this situation, writing a thoughtful, poetic message, maybe even a relevant quotation, then reading it back to myself and chickening out to a safe and simple “thoughts and prayers”. I get it, I’ve been there, I’ve said some miserable things that I wish I could get a REDO on. This article has suggestions for how to respond during difficult situations:

Psychology Today - What Grieving Friends Wish You’d Say

Check out our lineup this week and our Fall Menus through the end of November. Thank you for your Support.
 

The Human Experience

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The weather was unseasonably warm the day after our family dog “Daisy” passed away unexpectedly and my husband and I were sitting outside as our kids rode their bikes in the driveway. A delivery van passed by so we moved the kids to the side waiting for the road to clear again, but the van came to a stop. We watched because my boys are fascinated by delivery trucks, but I was confident it wasn’t for us as we weren’t expecting anything. I watched as the young man emerged from the door with a flower arrangement of all white daisies and broke down in tears. My husband collected the arrangement while I gathered my emotions away from the kids. Without even reading the card, I received the message of Support.

When we created Support Suppers we sought to create a product and experience that helped people Support one another in a similar way. But as I look back at the past year at the feedback I’ve received and reviews you all have shared, I seldom hear stories of the emotional experience, like my own with the flower delivery. The flowers were beautiful, but the gesture brought me to tears.

This week on vacation, I am rereading Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant’s book Option B and as I relate it to my everyday work at Support Suppers, I want to reach out to my customers. Not just those that have ever received a gift from Support Suppers, but those that have sent them too.

What was the emotional experience of sending and receiving a Support Suppers like? Not the meal or the food but the gesture itself or the message in the card from the person or group that sent it. I know this isn’t always an easy topic, and we certainly Support a wide range of different situations in our customer's lives, but if you feel comfortable sharing, I’d love to know. Or if you have any additional feedback, we’d love to hear that too. Please email me at kate@supportsuppers.com. Thanks for your Support.

Sheryl Sandberg On How To Help Someone Who's Grieving

I've never seen anything make people fumble more than knowing how to Support and what to say to someone who is grieving an unthinkable loss. Here is a great read about a difficult topic. ❤️