Former cook now offers food for the soul

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 24, 2005


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE – When Eva Mae Nelson was working in the food industry, she took her work seriously. As head cook at the Grace King High School in Jefferson Parish; as well as a dietician at Oschner Hospital, she learned importance of food preparation for others.

She always put herself in the other person’s shoes, showing her empathetic side early in her career. Now that she is retired, she has taken that valuable skill to her volunteer work at Twin Oaks Nursing Home.

She doesn’t cook in the kitchen anymore, but she does offer food for the soul.

While raising her children – daughters Janice and Laurie; and sons John Jr. and Ronnie- and working full time, Nelson couldn’t devote much time for volunteering. But she is making up for that now that she is retired, even though she has 10 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

She schedules her calendar to include quality family time as well as volunteer hours.

As a representative of St. Michaels Baptist Church, Nelson and another church member usually visit Twin Oaks a few times a week. If their trips coincide with the Ministerial Group that also stops in at the home on a regular basis, they join those members with singing and taking part in their services.

Nelson also serves on the Deaconess Board at the church.

On the days the ladies come to Twin Oaks, they are greeted by many residents. They minister to both small groups and individuals.

“Some of them remember us and are very happy to see us again,” said Nelson. “It’s a very good feeling.”

Looking at her service to others in a philosophical way, Nelson shows her special trait of a caring personality, with empathy at the forefront. “We never know where we are going to come to,” she said. “And you never know who you are going to need at a later time in your life.”

She added that, if she was in the type of position that some of the Twin Oaks residents were experiencing, she would greatly appreciate visitors and kindness from the staff and volunteers.

Some residents are withdrawn or depressed when Nelson visits, due to varying situations. Spending time with them and relatingelling the residents that God loves them, no matter what circumstances they are in, seems to lift their spirits, she added.

Volunteering is a great force in Nelson’s life, and she highly recommends it to others.

“It makes my day (and theirs too),” she said.