LAWRENCE – As a home health aide for 29 years at Tufts Medicine Care at Home, Lillian Silva supports her patients by assisting with their personal care and other daily living activities. On her days off, the dedicated caregiver extends her compassionate caring to the wider community as a volunteer with Lasagna Love.
Founded in March 2020 to ease the COVID pandemic-related struggles of families, Lasagna Love has grown into an international movement with thousands of people from all walks of life, diverse ethnicities and socio-economic backgrounds who cook and deliver meals. The mission is not only to help address increasing food insecurity, but also provide a simple act of kindness during times of stress and uncertainty.
Silva signed up to volunteer for Lasagna Love after learning about the nonprofit organization in a Facebook group a few years ago. While she has no issues with others using the recipe printed on boxes of lasagna noodles, the self-taught cook has incorporated her own three-cheese blend with other special ingredients, measurements and techniques. When lasagna noodles disappeared from grocery store shelves during the pandemic, for example, she substituted layers of whatever other macaroni was available at the time.
Once Silva is matched with a recipient, Lasagna Love informs her of the number of people living in the home, as well as any dietary restrictions. Silva also welcomes special requests.
“I’ll make a lasagna with whatever kind of meat they want, or I’ll load it up with peppers, onions, and mushrooms. I also ask if they like it thick or thin,” said Silva, estimating she has delivered at least 50 lasagnas to families in towns around her home in Dracut. “I’ve made so many that I could do it in my sleep, but I still ask for feedback because it helps me improve.”
Silva has brought lasagnas to parents of newborns, elderly residents, those recovering from hospitalizations, individuals who feel overwhelmed with no time to cook and others who are simply craving a hot, homemade meal. While she used to donate a lasagna weekly, she does so once or twice monthly now due to the increased cost of ingredients and disposable pans.
Silva, who will turn 65 in January, said she plans to continue volunteering even after she retires from working someday.
“Everybody is appreciative, and I enjoy getting to meet new people,” she said. “Every one of us benefits from a mission of goodwill.”
Tufts Medicine Care at Home, part of the Tufts Medicine health system, provides a full continuum of home health, palliative, and hospice care in home and community settings. Our highly skilled healthcare providers are renowned for their expertise in a wide range of cutting-edge clinical and supportive services for infants, children, adults, and elders. The Lawrence-based nonprofit organization delivers expert, compassionate care in more than 100 communities throughout the Merrimack Valley, northeastern Massachusetts, and southern New Hampshire. For more information, visit www.careathome.org.◊