Local couple delivering meals, kindness to Cannon staff

By Jason Evans

Staff Reporter

PICKENS — The staff of AnMed Health Cannon wish to recognize a local couple for a weekly act of kindness and comfort.

Lorraine and Ernie Dandeneau “have really gone above and beyond,” registered nurse Karen Keane said.

Since March, the Dandeneaus have been delivering homemade meals to hospital staff, Keane said.

“In March, Lorraine brought some soup for the staff in the ER,” she said. “It was so well received that Ernie said ‘Why don’t we just feed everybody?’ One meal would have been great, but to continue? It’s become a mission for them. They wanted to feed us, to show that they care for us and appreciate what we do.”

Each week, the Dandeneaus make meals for both the day shift and the night shift.

Keane herself works on the night shift and said those employees can be inadvertently overlooked at times.

“We’re vampires,” she said. “We’re working while everybody else is sleeping.”

Keane said the meals from the Dandeneaus provide “a lift during this time of uncertainty.”

“It’s a life for them, the staff,” she said. “They say ‘We’re going to get a homemade meal today,’ and the meals are amazing.”

The menus have included pulled pork and spaghetti and meatballs.

“Lorraine is Italian,” Keane said. “She made wonderful homemade Italian meatballs.”

A recent meal was stuffed shells.

“They started cooking on Wednesday to bring the stuffed shells on Friday,” Keane said. “Everything is homemade. Mama Lorraine is Italian and she loves to cook and she is an excellent cook. It’s work, but it’s work that they love.”

Lorraine and Ernie are using their stimulus checks to provide the meals.

“They’ve already made over 400 meals,” Keane said. “It’s just an unbelievable random act of kindness.”

The meals are delivered in individual containers “to be cognizant of the coronavirus,” she said.

The Dandeneaus pull into the parking lot and unload the meals to be brought inside. Staff then gets texts to let them know it’s time to eat.

They work to ensure no one gets left out.

“They try to come on different days to cover people who may have not gotten a meal yet,” Keane said. “It’s a hearty meal. Some people get two meals out of them.

“They’re delicious, but it’s not just a meal,” she continued. “It’s really a gesture of kindness, but also of generosity. They feed our bodies, but they nourish our spirit.”

Staff wanted to alert media so Lorraine and Ernie could be recognized, even though they don’t like to be made a fuss over.

“Everyone was so just thankful,” Keane said of the staff. “‘Thank you’ just didn’t seem to be enough. Our Cannon family just wanted to do something for them.”

Keane asked WYFF to recognize Lorraine and Ernie as Community Champions.

“They are very well deserving of the recognition,” she said. “In times like these, sometimes we just hear about bad news. We really appreciate it, and we’re going to try and pay it forward.”

AnMed Health Cannon is a very family-oriented hospital, Keane said.

“Because it’s so small, it really has its own sense of community,” she said. “It’s so small that we really know each other.”

Some people forget about AnMed Health Cannon, Keane said.

“People forget about Cannon,” she said. “It’s a little hospital in Pickens. It truly started as a community hospital. It’s a little flower in the cap of Pickens to have this little community hospital.”

She hopes that the recognition the Dandeneaus are receiving will inspire others.

“Kindness is contagious,” Keane said.