The first Sunday of every month, my parents take food to Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth to serve to cancer patients and their families.

Their church in Arlington started a program called Noreen’s Nourishment about 11 years ago in memory of a parishoner’s daughter, who was a patient at the hospital.

Noreen lost her fight with cancer as a toddler, but her memory lives on each week as church members provide a home-cooked meal for families whose children bravely battle illness.

My parents began volunteering about 10 years ago, and I go along whenever my schedule permits. It warms my heart to do something as simple as serve a meal, knowing food is one thing those families don’t have to worry about one day a week.

I’m always there the first Sunday in January, when my family prepares the entire meal.

Last weekend, we served lasagna, pork roast, macaroni and cheese, fresh fruit, bread, mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes, vegetables, several desserts and chicken divan — a casserole that was a staple in my house when I was growing up. It was the first time I’d helped my mom make it in about 10 years, and it reminded me of all the memories we’d shared over dinner while eating the comforting dish.

Serving it Sunday, I hope it brought a few minutes of comfort to the families and patients who ate the meal.

Spending time at the hospital always reminds me how precious life is, and how important it is to take time to give back. It’s little things, like cooking and serving comfort food, that really count when you want to show someone you care.

Chicken divan


  • 24 ounces frozen broccoli
  • 3 cups boiled chicken, diced into cubes
  • 2 cans cream of chicken soup
  • 3 cups cooked rice
  • 8 ounces plain yogurt
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese


  1. Cook broccoli in a microwave safe dish according to package directions and drain water, then spread in bottom of large oven-safe casserole dish.
  2. Cook rice according to package directions and pour over broccoli.
  3. On stovetop in large sauce pan, combine chicken, cream of chicken soup and yogurt. Heat until it starts to simmer, stirring occasionally, then pour on top of rice.
  4. Top casserole with cheese and bake 350-degree oven for 30 minutes or until cheese is golden and casserole is bubble. (Dish can be cooked in microwave for 18 minutes, instead of using oven).

Serves: 8

Contact M. Clare Haefner at or (254) 501-7551.

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