The below blog post is part of #GivingTuesday's #WomenWhoGive series, which celebrates women giving back to their communities.
By Jennifer Caraway.
The Joy Bus is a labor of love that began several years ago with the illuminating sparkle and rosy cheeks of my friend Joy, a kind and gentle soul who most will unfortunately never have the pleasure of knowing. When Joy became ill, I began to bring her handmade treats to lift her spirits and nourish her body and mind. My background and passion have always been food and every aspect of it. Obviously the eating of it, but equally the simplicity, comfort and art that surrounds food is transcending.
Joy’s determination and calm inspiration throughout her battle with ovarian cancer drove me to want to make a difference. I wanted to reach out and provide comfort to those without the same support system as Joy the only way I knew how: with food! Our organization was created in 2011 and aptly named The Joy Bus.
What happened next was the beginning of what The Joy Bus is today. After reaching out to many local farms in the Phoenix area, one farm (Crooked Sky Farms) stepped up to the need and now donates produce every week towards our meals. Today The Joy Bus is an all-volunteer organization that delivers healthy, homemade meals to cancer patients and their families each week. Our volunteers that help to deliver our meals consist of mother and daughter teams from the Moon Valley National Charity League in addition to dedicated members of our community who sign up every week via our website.
The Joy Bus has grown into much more than a meal delivery service. We are a group of friends bringing over a meal, delivering today’s mail, taking out yesterday’s trash, a companion in a time of confusion and despair. My passion is food and The Joy Bus was created to share that passion and comfort with others in Joy’s name. Unintentional side effects from our deliveries have been long lasting friendships and an overwhelming humility and gratitude for life.
The Joy Bus is a recognized Arizona-based nonprofit corporation that has been granted tax-exempt public charity status under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Service. To date The Joy Bus has delivered upwards of 4000 meals free of charge to home-bound cancer patients within our community. As a single mother, struggling to raise two children while instilling in them the values of compassion and giving back, I am blessed that I found my calling and grateful to the community that supports our mission.