Sheri has also seen a lot of people in her life die. More curious about death than afraid of it, over time Sheri grew to see death as part of a cycle we all participate in—as something to be mourned but not feared or denied.
A few years after moving to Brandon, Vermont, in 1999, she was inspired to become a hospice volunteer—the perfect way to give back and show compassion for those going through a difficult time. The organization she applied to was in transition and not sure when they would do their next training. By the time they got in touch with Sheri some months later, she had just started a catering business and couldn’t do the training at the time.
Not wanting to miss out on an opportunity to help, she suggested that, until she could take the training, she cook for people. The agency agreed to give it a try, and it was a wild success. “I don’t think any of us were prepared for how well this would be received,” said Sheri.
Her first meals were donated to families who were sitting with a parent who was dying. Their gratitude was immense. In November 2003, she took the hospice training and began sitting with those who were dying.
Eventually she started providing food for patients as well as their families. To Sheri it was a way to show love and support for those going through what is inevitably a difficult time. People continued to respond with gratitude.
Sheri saw the potential for this to grow—for other restaurants to participate and more patients to be fed—but she was focused on launching her own business. She spent the next few years volunteering, cooking, and dreaming up a 5-year plan to grow this idea.
Sheri’s last hospice patient was Jean. Jean had been a chef and they loved to talk food together.
Dinners with Love was founded in 2009, and in 2010 it became a nonprofit. Sheri says there was some debate about the name at the beginning, but she was firm that “love” should be part of it. “I want to offer food that’s made with love and given with love, otherwise it’s just a meal,” said Sheri. “I’m glad we stuck with the name, because really, life is all about love.”