The weekly meals Caitlin Miles has prepared for Jacob’s House aren’t just about food—they’re about community. “It’s about sharing our common humanity and vulnerability,” she explains.
At the beginning of the pandemic, Caitlin’s parents, Suzan and Phil Sprinkle, began focusing their volunteer efforts on serving the men of Jacob’s House, the Well Community’s boarding home for men. Caitlin, who was part of their quarantine bubble, started serving alongside them, contributing homemade desserts to the Sunday suppers the family cooked and delivered to the boarding house.
Soon, she started getting more involved, sometimes taking full responsibility for the dinners. And, in anticipation of moving out of state this summer, she’s stepped up even more, preparing each weekly meal on her own since April to give her parents a break and to make the most of her remaining time in the Dallas area. “It’s brought me so much joy each and every week. I wanted to take every opportunity until I leave.”
Caitlin sees the opportunity to serve Jacob’s House as a way to affirm the value of the men who live there. “We can show someone that they matter through sharing a meal,” she shares. “I always serve something that I find comforting, something nourishing to the soul that brings me comfort; and I hope that in sharing that … they can feel that same love and comfort.”
She also sees it as an opportunity to help her neighbors, just as she’d do for any other neighbor or friend. And it’s a way to build connections among individuals who have often faced unkindness and discrimination because of their illnesses. Caitlin emphasizes that those who’ve enjoyed the blessing of living in society without facing stigma or marginalization have a responsibility to be part of creating a community. “With great privilege comes great responsibility. It’s really about taking a step back to be grateful for what I have.”
It's a step she’d like to see others take, explaining how something as simple as sharing a smile or offering a bottle of water can touch the heart and soul of a neighbor accustomed to the sting of stigma. She tells other young adults considering serving at Jacob’s House or the Well to give it a try, even if it seems awkward or intimidating at first. “Be yourself,” she suggests. “Speak to [Well Community members] as you would with a friend. Be patient.” She also encourages them to prepare food they find comforting. “Don’t over-complicate it. … Soulful beans and weenies go a long way!”
For over two years, Caitlin’s intentional and caring approach to conveying connection and worth through food has helped to make Jacob’s House a place where men living with serious mental health challenges find community not only with one another but with caring members of their neighborhood. As she moves out of Texas and away from the Well Community, her service and kindness will be deeply missed.
Likewise, as Caitlin closes this chapter, she knows it will be difficult to say goodbye to the simple but powerful delivery of comfort and care that she has provided each week. “It’s been so meaningful for me,” she shares. “It’s going to be really hard to leave behind.”
Do you like sharing comfort through food? Jacob’s House welcomes meals from members of the community, and preparing a lunch or dinner can be a powerful way to support a group of men pursuing mental health stability together. If you, your family or group of friends would like to volunteer, please contact us!