The Village Project assists cancer patients, families (with video)

Nearly everyone has lost a loved one to cancer.

For families dealing with the illness, the constant trips to hospitals for treatment, the heartbreak of watching a loved one suffer and the stress of mounting expenses can make living a semi-normal life impossible.

Over the past 2 and half years, The Village Project in Bay Village has helped such families in the area by providing meals and more during their time of need. The organization has worked with individuals, businesses, civic organizations, schools, churches and the city to serve more than 6,000 nutritious meals to families.

According to the organization’s executive director, Barb Harrell, all of the cooking is done by volunteer high school students. 

“We have six student volunteers who are in the kitchen, supervised by adults,” Harrell said. “We put the students in teams of two and they cook the entire meal from beginning to end. We don’t do batch cooking.”

The students aren’t thrown into the kitchen unprepared, instead they are trained on knife skills, cooking skills and sanitation safety, according to Harrell.

She came up with the idea for the organization after reading about a program in California where high school students began cooking for people who had cancer. Harrell spoke with a number of people in Bay Village to see if they felt such a program could work there.

She contacted Cathryn Couch, the founder of the organization in California, and went out to meet with her to learn more about how to go about setting up a similar program in Ohio.

The Village Project was founded Sept. 24, 2010, under the umbrella of the Bay Presbyterian Church. The organization was part of the church’s ministry, but instead was a community project that was able to use the church’s non-profit status to help get funding.