The Joy Project: Lindsay + Amy

March 26, 2019

Walking into Lindsay Leder’s house, I immediately noticed 2 things: the sweet smell of fresh vegetables and the sound of laughter coming from the kitchen.



I spent the morning with Lindsay, our Senior Director of Community Engagement, and her cousin Amy, so they could talk to me about the Joy Project, our annual Mother’s Day program, while they made their grandma’s famous chicken soup. Lindsay shares with me some of her thoughts about the importance of the program and why it is such a meaningful way to give.



“Our grandma, (sometimes affectionately referred to as, “Gram”) is 90 years old and has been making this soup for, probably, 6 decades,” Lindsay tells me. “There’s no recipe, we just know how she makes it.”



Amy soaks her carrots and celery in water, Lindsay does not.  Amy always has frozen ingredients on hand, Lindsay prefers to buy fresh. They both agree, though, that Amy’s sister, Melissa, has perfected the soup. “She cooks it for the family on most holidays,” Amy says. Both women share stories about their grandma, including some incredible tidbits about her life: that she was married to their grandpa for 70 years, that she lives completely independently, and that she is the very glue that holds their family together.



The women even FaceTime Gram, who by the way, is very tech-saavy, so they can show her their soup. Gram immediately tells us to turn the burner down and be patient with the soup.



“Gram spends her winters in Florida. When we go to visit her, usually the first thing we do is eat a bowl of soup. She doesn’t eat it herself, she says she makes it just for us,” Lindsay tells me.



I asked Lindsay about the Joy Project, a program that honors mothers through heartfelt tributes from their loved ones in the form of a beautiful Mother’s Day card. The proceeds go towards helping women in the community meet their basic needs. This is the 10th anniversary of the program. Lindsay has given all 10 years. “I wanted people in my family to know a part of what I do everyday at work. I know how much our agency helps women,” Lindsay says. “A lot of those people are now giving back, too. I can send a little piece of my life to the women who live out of state and they can understand what it is that we do at JFS through this program.”



Lindsay says, “We send cards to our mothers, who are identical twins, my friends who are mothers, my aunts, co-workers, and those celebrating their first Mother’s Day. I also send one to my dad in honor of his mother.”



Amy, who has also given several of the past years, tells me, “Giving gifts can be so superficial but giving something to someone that also helps other women has more meaning. You’re not going to remember something someone gave you years ago, but you’ll remember a special card with this extra meaning. I send to all of the really important women in my life. Even the ones who are not mothers.”



When the soup is finished, Lindsay and Amy carefully pour all of the ingredients into separate containers. Amy says, “Growing up, Grandma would call us all to the kitchen and say, “How would you like your soup?” Everyone would assemble theirs the way they like.”



Amy says, “We have weekly Monday night dinners together. Other family members join sometimes, but it’s always Grandma and all of her granddaughters.”



“The Joy Project is another way of honoring Gram,” Lindsay says. “She saves all of the cards.”



Read more information about the history of The Joy Project here.

To send a tribute to the special women in your life, visit here.