IVC lights up the spirit with holiday meals

Many Bainbridge Islanders don’t have families or friends to spend time with during the holidays. So the Island Volunteer Caregivers volunteer their time to light up those faces during the magical season.

“The sparkle in people’s eyes is amazing,” volunteer Laura Van Dyke said at the Holiday Cheer Community Meal Dec. 22.

IVC began the tradition when COVID shut down the world. “Sportsmen’s Club gave meals for decades,” Van Dyke said. “We found out nobody else was providing meals so there was a gap. We rallied.”

Van Dyke and over 300 more volunteers created the community meal. The volunteers have been giving meals to anybody who is interred, cost-free, for four years. The meals have either arrived at someone’s door or they have the option to eat at St. Cecilia Church with other community members.

“It is about bringing joy to people who are alone,” Jackie Fabbri said. “We work with many older folks who need companionship. All these lovely people are spending time alone so this meal is to spark joy.”

IVC prepared 200 meals, 150 for delivery and 50 for dining at the church. The folks who signed up had a variety of options on the menu. People had the choice between Cafe Hitchcock’s Smoked Ham with Whole Grain Mustard or Via Rosa 11’s Creamy Vegetarian Lasagna. Meals came with potato salad, vegetables, an apple pie bar and a blueberry muffin.

“It’s smoothing out,” Van Dyke said. “The first year it was cooked in-house and as the years progressed, the restaurants were all very happy to donate.”

IVC receives some funds from sponsors Puget Sound Energy, Rotary and the Sportsmen Club. But funds raised are given to the restaurants who donate the food. “It’s a little token but it’s mostly a donation on their part,” Van Dyke said of the restaurants.

Community members volunteer to put together the meals or deliver them. Bob Oakland said: “They love it. It starts out as, ‘Who are you?’ then they light up when you donate the food.”

Carolyn Oakland added, “IVC brings so much value to the community, and people we work with are so grateful for them.”

Volunteers help load the bags and deliver them across the island.

Volunteers help load the bags and deliver them across the island.