“Any time we get a call from someone with that kind of need,” she says, “we try to help however we can.” Fortunately, for the more than 150 residents living at Coleman who found themselves without access to warm or fresh food, Johnny’s became a lifeline.
On that cold rainy day in April, Johnny’s prepared 165 bowls of matzah ball soup. That would be the start of an incredible relationship between Johnny’s Luncheonette and 2Life Communities. Karen says, “We don’t do enough for lower income older adults, and I’m so grateful that this model exists.” Since the power outage, she has used a grant to provide meals for every Helping Hand essential worker at two of our campuses twice. These meals were supplemented with donated herbal tonics from Goldthread, which is bottled in Springfield, MA. One staff member describes Karen as “2Life’s miracle ninja.”
Karen is a founding member of Feed the Fight Boston (FTFB), a community-based effort to meet the needs of both local residents and frontline workers in the face of COVID-19. By contracting with local restaurants to provide food, FTFB is working to “address the diversity of the need”—feeding those in high-risk groups while putting much-needed money back into the local economy through community donations. Feed the Fight has expanded rapidly in the past few months from a group of four women coming together to a consortium of over 50 restaurants providing food to over 75 local institutions. FTFB has branched out from hospital settings, to nursing homes and feeding the homeless. “We meet the need wherever it shows itself,” Karen says.
“Food is not just a meal,” Karen shares. “It’s the way we express our love and concern for someone.” She asks that people “consider the precariousness of the next few months to the businesses they care about,” and take a moment to think: “After we get through this, and we will, what do I want to do?” At 2Life, we are so grateful to live in a community with people like Karen who do so much to keep all of us on track in difficult times. “That’s how we get through this,” says Karen. “We make sure to do it together.”