For this month's Do-Gooder, we wanted to focus on a business that has recently helped us out tremendously. Since the birth of our premature twin girls, our friends have been bringing us home-cooked meals so we wouldn't have to fool with making dinner in between visiting them at the hospital and caring for them since they have come home. These meals have been a tremendous gift to us because we have been able to spend more time with our girls. Our friends used a website called, TakeThemAMeal.com, to coordinate the meal schedule. TakeThemAMeal is a free on-line tool designed to coordinate the delivery of meals to someone who is in need. Setting up this schedule is fast and very user friendly. The Meal Coordinator just goes on the website and creates a schedule for the meal recipient. The schedule is visible for anybody to sign up for a day and the recipient receives an e-mail stating who is bringing the meal that day and what they are bringing. The website offers scheduling tips, recipes, delivering advice, and much more! We contacted TakeThemAMeal founders, Scott Rogers and Adina Bailey, and asked them some questions about how this online tool has impacted their lives and many, many others. Because of their simple need for a tool like this, they have changed the world of delivering meals to people in need.
After you first designed your site, how quickly did the word spread about this new tool?
Our intention was to help one friend during a difficult time and we really didn't think about word spreading. When word spread within our church about the site, someone from church asked if they could use it for another friend at our church who was diagnosed with breast cancer and would need meals for a while. From there, we discovered that a few meals schedules were set up in Florida, and then the southeast, and now the entire United States and a few other countries like Australia and Japan.
Tell us about the success of Take Them A Meal.
We define success for TakeThemAMeal.com in how many times people have helped one another through meals. The site has existed for 2 1/2 years and more than 150,000 meals have been prepared to help friends or family members in need.
How has working at Take Them A Meal impacted your spirit of giving to others?
One of the reasons I called Scott Rogers initially to see if he would help me put meal scheduling online is I knew he and his wife are very caring and they would understand my friend's need for meals. Not only is Scott a great programmer, but he serves our community in many volunteer capacities. As we have spent more time interacting with people who are using the site, we continue to be inspired by the way people care for one another. In joy and sadness, friends and families are quick to come together to meet a need. It is beautiful to get to see that happen each day. Recently, a father of a school age child was killed in a tragic accident. Within several hours, the whole school community came together to see that the affected family had meals for several months. It's inspiring to see that people choose to care instead of running away from a difficult situation. It challenges us to do the same.
Has a particular story of a family who benefited from Take Them A Meal touched your life?
There are so many stories, but here's one. About a year ago, a young boy in our local community was involved in a terrible incident outside his home where his body was crushed under a heavy object that accidentally fell on him. Word spread throughout our community and his school community and many people were grieving for this family. It was uncertain as to whether to boy would live and if he did, would he walk again? A meal schedule was set up to help his aunt while she was caring for his siblings at home. His parents spent several weeks with him at the hospital. So many people were praying for this precious boy and months of meals filled up over night. Over time, the young boy began to improve and was even able to come home. In time, he began walking and was able to return to school. I knew of the wonderful outcome, but my heart swelled last week when I saw this young boy for the first time. He walking through the store with his mom and they were headed to get school supplies.
The Bible teaches us to do unto others what you would have them do to you. This website is a great example of how we can serve others through our actions. What comments do you have about how this site can help others in their time of need? The web site is a great way to organize people who want to all care for or celebrate with a person or family. So often, we are faced with situations we have been through ourselves and we know the relevant needs. Having a newborn in the house or coming home after a surgery is difficult. We know that a friend providing a meal at that time really helped us. When we hear of a similar circumstance, we want to help out with a few meals. The website is a great way to let others know of the need. Unfortunately, we also hear of situations we have not been through, but we can only imagine how difficult they must be. We want to help in some way and while we can't take away the pain, we can show love in a tangible way and that's through food. Well planned out meals that are spaced out over time can really be a huge encouragement to a friend or family that is facing a difficult circumstance.
What suggestions do you have for people that want to start their own online business to serve others?
We never started out thinking "How can we make a web site that lots of other people will use to help their friends?" We had a specific need and we created a solution to our need. Telephone calls and using e-mail replies were going to take too much time when coordinating a meal schedule for many months. We really wanted to help our friend, so we came up with a way people could sign-up online. It's been incredible to see that many others were facing our same challenge and now our site offered an easy solution. Our recommendation for starting an online business to serve others is to think about something that you love or already do to serve others. Is there a way to make that service of others take place more easily or conveniently online?
What is your favorite thing about working for Take Them A Meal? We love getting to see first hand how people care for one another in good times and bad.
Till next time, let your light shine!