Main Street News

Sparrow’s Nest Builds New Location in Beekman

By Published On: June 19th, 2024

Sparrow’s Nest is a 501(c)3 charity that was founded by Krista Jones in 2012 with the simple idea of cooking for the families of local moms diagnosed with cancer. Since then, Sparrow’s Nest has assisted more than 600 families in the Hudson Valley, feeding more than 3,500 individuals. 

Sparrow’s Nest delivers two home cooked meals each week directly to over 400 individuals across Dutchess, Putnam, Ulster, Orange, and Northern Westchester counties in New York. In order to qualify for services, individuals must live within a 35-mile radius of the Beekman location, have children 18 or under living in the home, and be actively receiving chemotherapy, radiation, and/or surgery as a result of a cancer diagnosis. 

Expanding the nest 

Most recently, Sparrow’s Nest has moved into their new location in the Town of Beekman. Previously, Sparrow’s Nest founder Krista Jones cooked out of her own home from 2012 to 2016 and then Sparrow’s Nest had an official location in Wappingers Falls for seven years. However, they quickly realized that they were in need of more space and decided to build a new location. 

“We were working in 800 square-feet and cooking for over 325 people. We were just bursting at the seams and needed more space,” Krista explained. 

The location, affectionately referred to as ‘the nest,’ provided the needed space to expand their mission and feed more people. The 7,000-square-foot facility boasts a large commercial kitchen and provides ample room for Sparrow Nest’s dedicated team and volunteers to work more efficiently. The space also allows for increased storage capacity for food donations. 

The kitchen, which is about 2,000-square-feet, will allow Sparrow’s Nest to start feeding more people in need in the coming months. While they started by just feeding moms, they have expanded to feeding both parents, other caretakers, and children. Though that’s a wide breadth of people, it still leaves more groups in need. 

“I have a hard time saying no, which is why I’m not allowed to answer the phone,” Krista said humorously. 

In the coming months, with their new space completed, Sparrow’s Nest will be changing their mission so that anyone with a cancer diagnosis within a 35-mile radius of their location will qualify for meals. 

Sparrow’s Nest currently has between 40-50 volunteers, with around six to 12 people in the kitchen on any given Monday, and over 30 drivers. In addition to the volunteers, they also have four full-time employees and one part-time employee. 

They’ve been in the new location in Beekman now for close to three months. “It’s really big. We’re getting used to having this space and working out the kinks. It’s been amazing,” Krista said.  

Photo courtesy of the Hudson Picture Company

A day in the nest 

What does an average day at Sparrow’s Nest look like? “It’s organized chaos,” Krista mused. 

Over the years they’ve created a solid system, but they still have to pivot and adapt as things change in the cancer world. For example, sometimes drivers turn up at houses to deliver meals, only to find out that the patient has passed away. 

“You have to be able to pivot on a dime. You’re walking in on a family that’s experiencing tremendous loss, and you have to be able to navigate that effectively.”

Sparrow’s Nest feeds the families of patients who pass on for up to one year following the loss. “Sometimes we have to take a step back and let the community feed the family. We have to figure out when they want us, if they want us, and if our presence is helpful or harmful to their grieving process,” Krista explained. 

Krista doesn’t repeat a recipe for at least a year. Each week, she looks for inspiration on Pinterest for meals that are healthy, but still kid-friendly. 

“We make a lot of comfort food and try to make it as healthy as we can,” she said. “It’s important to recognize that you have to make something that the kids are going to eat, too.” 

As far as referrals go, Krista said that they typically don’t have patients come to them at all, but instead, it’s typically a family friend or a relative. 

“It’s a weird thing. I think patient’s feel like ‘I’m not going to ask for help. I can do this.’ But it’s okay to need help sometimes,” she said. 

Sparrow’s Nest has strong relationships with oncology offices in the area as well, so a lot of the time, the offices will call them directly and help the patient fill out the Sparrow’s Nest paperwork over the phone. 

“A lot of the time they’re so overwhelmed with the diagnosis, so it’s great that we can have the medical community involved,” she said. 

The community nest

For Krista, the most rewarding part of working at Sparrow’s Nest is being able to take the stress off of the recipients.

“They’re in such a crazy battle. Even me being in the middle of it, I have no idea what that truly feels like, and I don’t ever want to know what it really feels like,” she said. “To me, we’re giving them back the time to do things that are more important. We’re giving them time to breathe and concentrate on getting better around a meal that they didn’t have to plan, cook, or pay for. They can just be normal.” 

One of the biggest challenges is being careful that they don’t create donor fatigue and ensure that they’re showing their appreciation and gratitude to those who donate. 

As Sparrow’s Nest continues growing and expanding, it’s proven to be more difficult to keep up with thank you notes, shout outs on social media, and showing up at various events, but Krista and the team do their best to show their gratitude to the community whenever possible. 

“If I could clone myself, I would,” she joked. “We couldn’t do this without the community support, our donors, and our volunteers.” 

Going forward, Sparrow’s Nest has a few portions of the building that they need to finish. Once that is done, they’ll be expanding their mission statement in Dutchess County this fall, and then to other counties next year. 

They’re also looking forward to growing their own vegetables and produce on site, hopefully as early as next year. “We built this building bigger than we needed it because one day, it might be more than cancer. There are a lot of other debilitating diseases that we’d like to provide support for in the future. We’re looking forward to doing that after we take a breath.” 

She also wants people to know that even if they can’t donate financially, they’re still a donor. “Time and talent are just as important as financial giving,” Krista said. “We will take people always. It’s about the community.” 

To learn more about Sparrow’s Nest, visit their website here. To donate to the organization, visit this link. Keep up with them on Facebook at @OurSparrowsNest.