By Jim Newell
A Lake Orion woman knows firsthand what it’s like to have a loved battling cancer, and has turned to helping other families by volunteering with a local food delivery program.
Lisa Brinker, a Huntington Bank VP who recently moved to Lake Orion, is one of the most active volunteers in the New Day Foundation for Families grocery delivery program.
Brinker, who lost her husband to brain cancer three years ago, feels a special connection to New Day’s mission to bring hope to cancer patients and families.
Fighting cancer with a compromised immune system and avoiding exposure to Covid-19 makes grocery shopping extremely difficult for families. However, proper nutrition is essential for restored health and immune efficiency, according to information from Heather Blasko, New Day Foundation’s public relations coordinator.
“I lost my husband to brain cancer three years ago. I understand the impact of the diagnosis and the upheaval it brings to a family. I was blessed to be surrounded by family, my church and friends who helped lighten the load. I honestly don’t know what I would have done without that help. This is a way I can help make someone else’s load a little lighter,” Brinker said.
“There may be one person in the household with the cancer diagnosis, but the entire family is in the battle. This program is a way of caring for the entire family, and keeping them safe, especially in light of COVID-19,” she said.
Since the program began this spring, volunteers have helped 125 families – a total of 390 family members, with 304 deliveries. New Day Foundation’s 127 volunteers have delivered nearly 17,500 meals (two meals per day).
While Brinker supports several causes, the satisfaction she gets from helping families directly adds a special feeling to helping out.
“Everything is contactless/socially-distanced, but I see in their faces or hear in their voices how thankful they are,” Brinker said. “And then, there’s the gratification of actually doing the work. I try to be generous and donate to several different causes, but I don’t really get to see or experience the impact of those donations. With this, I get back in my car after making a delivery and know that a difference has been made for that family.”
The families that Brinker and the New Day Foundation volunteers help appreciate the efforts.
“The families are always very appreciative. I often don’t have any more contact than a brief phone call or text with them to ask a question about something on their list or to make delivery arrangements, but there are always smiles from the window, or a “thank you” from the porch,” Brinker said “One family left a thank you card and a family photo on the porch for me, so I could actually see who I was helping.”
For those who want to donate or volunteer, Brinker says they may want to consider participating in New Day Foundation.
“New Day makes it simple to volunteer for this program, and there are no special skills required,” Brinker said. “Until there’s a cure for cancer, there will be families who need help, so please consider volunteering or donating.”
“Families facing cancer have been hit hard during the pandemic,” said Gina Kell Spehn, co-founder and president of New Day Foundation for Families. “All of us at New Day are addressing both the emotional and financial impact of COVID-19 on our community this year. From loss of income and delayed treatment to food instability and increased risk of contracting the disease, our families are facing more obstacles than ever before. We are so grateful to Lisa and all of our volunteers for stepping in when we need them.”
The New Day Foundation grocery delivery program is supported in part with grant funding from United Way for Southeastern Michigan. The Kroger Co. of Michigan and BSP Law are also proud supporters of the program.