Saint John woman makes nearly 100 meals to thank hospital workers
Reham Abazid delivered home cooked traditional Syrian meals to staff at the regional hospital.
For Saint John's Reham Abazid, the staff at the Saint John Regional Hospital hold a special place in her heart.
And Tuesday, she thanked them for their work the best way she can… by preparing and delivering almost 100 home–cooked traditional Syrian meals to staff at lunch time.
"They are our heroes in this hard situation," said Abazid.
"I would love to thank them in my way. And this is a good way to thank them."
Since coming to Saint John five years ago, Abazid has become known in the community for her skills in the kitchen.
And early Tuesday morning, she began preparing a traditional meal of rice and peas, chicken and salad.
A personal message
For her, it's a very personal thank you. Three months ago, staff at the hospital helped her deliver a new baby.
It was a very scary time for her, as she had miscarried four times before.
Abazid says the staff were always supportive.
"They were like a family to me when I was at the hospital," said Abazid, whose only immediate family here in Saint John is her husband and her sister.
"They were so kind through my miscarriage."
I really love them, I need to send them the message of lots of love.Rahem Abazid
When Abazid did give birth, she wanted to visit the staff that helped her through the hard times, and the happy ones.
But the COVID-19 pandemic made that impossible, which gave her the idea for the meal.
"I really love them, I need to send them the message of lots of love," said Abazid.
She was worried the hospital administration wouldn't allow her to do it, but she said they welcomed the idea, only asking that she follow certain guidelines while cooking.
"They asked me to be alone and they asked that nobody else is allowed to touch the food except me."
Cooking nearly 100 meals can be a daunting task for an entire kitchen staff, but Abazid cooked the meals all by herself in about four hours Tuesday morning, while her husband took care of their youngest child.
"I kick my other kids out to their grandparents," said Abazid, with a laugh.
"I feel like more freedom here."
At noon, Abazid, her husband and a handful of volunteers arrived at the staff entrance of the Saint John Regional Hospital to unload a car trunk full of boxed meals.
The boxes were transferred to a couple of dolly carts, and hospital staff rolled the carts inside, where the lunches were distributed to staff.
Jennifer Sheils, chief information officer with Horizon Health, said staff were grateful for the recognition.
"Today we fed 80 lab services employees. These are employees not necessarily hands on with patients but for every test that's been done, every assessment, behind the scenes they are working diligently…24 hours a day," she said.
"Most of them were saying 'How can we thank them?'. We had folks coming in to pick up lunches for the night shift that will be coming in," Sheils said.
"As I left the lunch area, everyone was asking me to express their deep appreciation and gratitude."
With files from Information Morning Saint John and Graham Thompson