Comfort food

ABOGJustLogo5-26-111-300x293Grief. Grief. Grief. Grief………

……. It goes on and on and on. Sometimes it feels like it will never end. They say it’s a process, but no process should hurt so much. Especially not in Newtown, Connecticut. Especially not at an elementary school. Especially not at the beginning of a new school year.

As the teachers and students return to Sandy Hook Elementary School, and as they and the families with absent members continue to grapple with their grief, memories of last year’s tragedy will, no doubt, trigger unexpected aftershocks.

When those come — as they surely will — one JMU-linked organization will offer a special brand of comfort.

Food. Comfort food.

ttamlogotoptight-2Take-Them-a-Meal, the online meal sharing website started by JMU alumni Scott Rogers (’00, ’02M) and Adina Bailey (’99) in 2008, will team up with Katrina Didot, owner of Harrisonburg’s A Bowl of Good restaurant, to organize, prepare and deliver meals to the faculty and staff of Sandy Hook Elementary School.

It’s their way of saying Love Never Stops. 

We’d say it’s Being the Change.

For each $50 donation made to the program, A Bowl of Good will prepare a meal to feed 4-6 people. Then Scott and his team will deliver the meals in late September. (Smaller donations for portions of meals are also welcome.) Any leftover funds will be donated to Sandy Hook Elementary School.

love-never-stops-sandy-hookThe TakeThemAMeal team includes: co-founder Adina, the website’s COO; Melissa Jenkins (’98), the customer service representative; and  Maureen Whitebread Witmer (’05), director of outreach and engagement.

Maureen, an SCOM graduate, moved back to Harrisonburg several years ago when her husband Andrew Witmer joined the faculty of JMU’s Department of History.  Melissa is married to Brad Jenkins (’99), adviser to JMU’s award-winning student newspaper, The Breeze. And Scott is married to Shaena Conlin Rogers (’00,’02M).

In addition to offering the program, all three families are donating meals.

Signing up is easy. A click here and a click there. Enter your information and a personal note for the people of Sandy Hook, and you’re all set. It’s simple — and important. After all, who doesn’t understand the value of a good meal to comfort someone who is hurting.

I count seven JMU people already signed up. How many more Dukes will sign on?  How much comfort can we give?

Two middlemen for change

Enabling others to serve

Two new faces on our Be the Change website have one thing in common: they help others help others. Harrisonburg realtor Scott Rogers (’00, ’02M)) has made it easier  for friends and families to assist those in need, and Indonesian graduate student Mailizar (’11M) will be making it easier for Indonesian students to learn.

Mailizar embodies what Be the Change is all about. A math teacher in Indonesia whose hometown was destroyed by a typhoon and massive flooding when he was a teen, Mailizar became interested in the idea of technology, especially how technology shapes the face of education, and how education affects the way people live.  Yet, with a lack of resources to experiment with technology in the classroom in Indonesia, Mailizar began to look at other places in the world and how they relate to technology in their lives.  Attracted to the development of technology in classrooms in the U.S., and after determining that JMU had the best education program for him out of a number of other campuses nationwide, Mailizar traveled to the U.S. to pursue a masters in education with a focus on technology.  When he graduates in 2011,  Mailizar will return to Indonesia with a new concept of how education can be improved, and more importantly, he will pass his skill along to others. Instead of returning to be a math teacher, Mailizar wants to instruct other teachers on how to use technology, and raise awareness to increase the funding for education throughout Indonesia.

In the same way that Mailizar is helping to develop education through technology, Scott Rogers has created a website that allows hundreds of people to better serve their neighbors and families. If you’ve ever organized meals through an old phone tree or shown up on a friend’s doorstep with a shrimp casserole in hand only to learn she is allergic to shellfish, you’ll appreciate Scott’s website. Scott, along with fellow alum Adina Bailey (’99M ) developed a website called Take Them a Meal, which allows friends to help those needing assistance during illnesses or other life challenges. The website provides an online system for friends to quickly and efficiently coordinate meals.  Here’s the link:

In the vernacular of YouTube, the program has gone viral. More than a quarter million meals have been prepared through Scott’s website, and some 13 thousand people have “liked” the Facebook page, which you can find by searching for (no spaces)

Scott and Mailizar demonstrate the importance of taking action to enable others to serve, and by doing so, these two innovative middlemen are changing a part of the world. Through their work, their individual actions are multiplied geometrically, touching millions of lives.

You can read more about in the Winter 2011 issue of Madison magazine.

To read Mailizar’s or Scott’s profile, click on their names near their pictures.

— Be the Change intern Tyler McAvoy (’12) contributed to this post.

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