Natalie's Everyday Heroes: The Right Relief aims to care for caregivers
MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- People battling serious illness need a lot of support from family and friends, but it can be easy to forget those loved ones acting as caregivers need a hand, too.
Hollie Mealy was inspired by her mother and father -- to start a non-profit called The Right Relief. It's her mission to make sure caregivers also feel cared for.
All it takes is some sizzling ground beef, a lot of cheese, and crunchy tortilla chips.
"There's salsa and enchilada sauce," Hollie Mealy added, tapping a spoon on the side of a large bowl.
Stir it all together and you've got…
"This is called lazy enchiladas," she said.
Lazy enchiladas, maybe, but there's nothing lazy about Hollie Mealy.
"So, this will be for 24," Mealy said, placing three large pans in the oven.
Since founding The Right Relief in 2019, she's served up well over 5,000 meals. Or, as she calls them, belly hugs.
"Each one represents a meal that we've cooked," she said, pointing to a large dish filled with elbow macaroni.
The macaroni serves as a visual reminder.
"Everybody is always so thankful and appreciative," Mealy said of those who eat her meals.
Her non-profit is designed to care for the caregivers. She was inspired by watching her mother care for her father when he had brain cancer.
"She often, I don't think knew she needed help. Right," Mealy said. "And even if she had known, who to ask or how to ask, and it is hard accepting help."
The Right Relief aims to ease the burden on caregivers. Mealy remembers how important it was to her family.
"To know that someone was thinking of us, was caring about us, I know it really helped," she said of that time in her family.
This particular day she volunteered at Kathy's House, which is a hospital guest house for patients and their families across from Froedtert Hospital.
"I can't imagine not being here," said guest, Linda Ward.
Ward is here from Florida, caring for her husband while he undergoes treatment for pancreatic cancer. She feels the support they've gotten has made a difference in his health.
"Even my husband said after we were here like a month, he said, you know, I feel so strong. So, he says, I'm going to beat this," Ward said, tearing up.
That support from volunteers like Mealy allow Ward to focus on him.
"From the caregiver's side, their heart hurts. Their heart is sick," said Patty Metropulos, President and CEO of Kathy's House. "Sometimes they kind of forget about themselves. And they feel so supported with something as simple as a meal that's made for them."
Kathy's House runs with just nine paid staff members, and 300 volunteers.
"Hollie is one of those incredibly valuable volunteers," Metropulos said.
She helps play a crucial role in their guests' well-being.
"Research shows that things like love, and food and the support of friends and family is just as important as the clinical care that our patients are accessing," Metropulos added.
Mealy's version of The Right Relief always ends with something sweet.
"We always make fresh cookies so that the house kind of smells like cookies and everybody loves when they come walking in," Mealy said.
Combining recipes from her mom and dad.
"I think my dad would really be proud and he loved cooking for others," she added.
Her way of making sure caregivers feel cared for.
"I'm doing one small thing that hopefully will make their day better. So, I really enjoy that," Mealy said.
The Right Relief is hosting a fundraiser on Saturday, March 18. For ticket information, and information on how you can help, visit their website.
If you'd like to nominate an Everyday Hero, send Natalie a message at [email protected]