What Do You Need? A simple question inspires The Turquoise Cart Program at Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas.
In this episode of The Turquoise Table, host Kristin Schell speaks with Kim Muench, a volunteer program coordinator at Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas. Kim began her Turquoise Table journey by placing her own Turquoise Table in her front yard. Unfortunately, this was met with resistance by her Homeowners Association. Despite Kim’s efforts to convince them otherwise, they would not allow her to keep her table in the front yard.
Still determined to create community in her neighborhood, Kim began a tradition of bringing her Turquoise Table from the back yard to the front yard one Friday night per month. Each month, between three and seven families join hers to play games on the street and socialize. Kim hopes that even more families will join them, and that her community will continue to grow.
Bringing out her Turquoise Table once a month wasn’t enough for Kim. She brought the idea of placing a table at Cook Children’s Hospital to her boss, who told her it wasn’t feasible. However, Kim and her boss came up with the idea of turquoise carts: rolling hospitality carts that go from room to room serving parents.
When children are in the hospital, parents often forget to take care of themselves. The children receive constant attention, but parents often lose themselves in the care of their children. Kim wanted to start The Turquoise Cart Project to serve and uplift these parents. To jumpstart the project, Kim asked all the parents who had children in the hospital: “what do you need?” This simple but powerful question rendered all the information she needed to pursue her idea of the turquoise carts.
Kim and her boss landed on three areas of service that the carts would provide: food, companionship, and the answering of questions. They found that most parents — especially those who were at the hospital for long periods of time — couldn’t leave the hospital room to go home and eat, and also couldn’t afford to eat in the hospital cafeteria every day. Kim decided that the carts would provide soup — the ultimate comfort food — to these exhausted parents.
She also wanted to find a way to provide quality companionship and realized that the only people who would be able to fully empathize with these parents were other parents who had been in patient care with their children before. Therefore, she found parents who had previously had children in the hospital to volunteer to push these carts. Kim currently has 12 core volunteers who serve soup, lend a listening ear, and answer any questions parents may have about hospital services. They also hand out turquoise journals to the parents who need an outlet for emotional release.
The program piloted from March to August of 2019 in three areas of the hospital, and now the carts serve eight areas of the hospital one day per month. Kim dreams of the turquoise carts increasing exponentially and being able to serve parents every day of the week but is patiently waiting for more parents to volunteer their time and energy.
Kim is grateful for the impact the project has already made and encourages listeners to create their own Turquoise Table missions wherever they are. The Turquoise Table calling is not limited to a front yard picnic table. As Kim has proven, it can be manifested anywhere that there are people to be served and community to be created.
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What do you need? What do the people around you need?