What makes a person step outside their boundaries and start a life changing organization? It usually is a personal experience that culminates in a blessing for many. This is how Lisa Eisenbach and a group of volunteers sharing a common vision and goal came to the aid of cancer patients and their families.
It all started 11 years ago when Lisa’s father was diagnosed with cancer. Immediately following, her best friend Kim, who, while raising a young family, found out she was in stage 4 of Colon Cancer.
Lisa, looking for resources to help her friend realized that, outside of the national cancer organizations, the availability of local resources was few. She decided to change that narrative. She started providing groceries that she stored in her basement to Kim and her family.
Word got out about Lisa’s good deeds and people started contacting her for help. Lisa used her 401K to feed these families and left her job as a nurse. She sought advice for starting a non-profit, completed the process, and launched Nightingales Harvest Cancer Pantry.
She assembled a group of friends who became her first board members, enlisted Dr. Timothy Kasunich, an oncologist who provided monetary and personal support, and moved out of her basement. There have been three moves to bigger facilities, as serving more families requires more space.
Throughout the years, fundraising events have provided the necessary means to continue the mission. Through acts like collecting aluminum, tin cans, and recyclable metals, and events like garage sales and barbecues, the community does their part. There are also many local businesses who play a role such as Meijer Simply Give, Seagate Food Bank, Sofo’s Italian Market, Campbell’s Soup in Napoleon, Hirzel Canning in Northwood and other private donors.
The pantry staff is eternally grateful for the generosity shown throughout the community. The people who donate show a commitment to these families that allows the pantry to serve anyone regardless of income.
The pantry’s current location is The Church of Our Savior, which provides adequate storage and office space, as well as areas stocked with groceries, toiletries, blankets donated by churches and personal care products that can be accessed by the families via personal visits or a phone call to select their items.
A staff of volunteers gathers the families’ selections, bags them and delivers it to their cars upon arriving at the church. Families also have their selections delivered by our Aspiring Hands adults every month up to three months after the end of their cancer journey.
The staff offers smiles, hugs and love to all who come for assistance. They are proud that Lisa was a Jefferson Award nominee.
At the present, the staff recently served a family who within a year lost a husband and father, and an 11 year old daughter and sibling. They surrounded this family with love and through their networking with other cancer agencies, a generous engineering company and private donors provided a year’s rent, a memorial service, a tree planted at East Broadway Elementary School with the student’s name and provided Christmas gifts for
the entire family.
They continue to advocate for them; once a Nightingales Harvest family, always a
Nightingales Harvest family.
If you are wondering how you can help, you can feel free to donate, volunteer your time, or make referrals. The staff is currently seeking board members, volunteers for The Glass City Marathon and persons with marketing expertise, as well as product and monetary donations.
This organization can be contacted via their Facebook site, www.facebook.com/nightingalesharvest; their website, www.nightingales-harvest.org; or by calling 419-725-1190. Reach out to Board President Kathy Varga with any questions.