Winnipegger Wendy Erlanger’s book “More Than Soup” has exceeded expectations. Erlanger wrote the book filled with soup recipes with the purpose of donating the proceeds to Cancer Care Manitoba.
Sales have been so substantial that the Soup Cart Program for chemotherapy patients at two Winnipeg hospitals is fully funded for the next two years due to her efforts. The program provides soup for patients in chemo rooms and waiting rooms at Health Sciences Centre and St. Boniface Hospital.
“I was touched by cancer five times in recent past – first the diagnosis of my best friend Allison Filmon Carvey, who helped inspire the book, then my mother of 27 years and then three others friends. I was really struggling with how sick Allison was. I tried to figure out what to do and this is what I came up with,” says Erlanger, who was born and raised in Winnipeg but left for California at 21 to become a teacher.
Erlanger channelled her energy into collecting recipes and advice from more than 150 friends, family and co-workers both locally and internationally. Her book mixes nourishing soup, bread and cookie recipes with practical advice for helping friends going through a serious illness like cancer.
“You can pick up momentum very quickly in a small city. There is always someone who is willing to lend a hand when you need it. I could not have pulled this project off without all the help I received. My daughter Gabrielle (17) helped with the section dividers, her friend added the illustrations, a friend of mine in California did the layout and so many others contributed recipes and suggestions,” says Erlanger.
“I have always felt that soup nourishes people, fills them up, and warms their soul and heart so that’s why I felt compelled to share these recipes and inspirations with anyone wondering how to support and comfort a loved one through a trying time,” she adds.
Spliced between the book’s recipes are helpful ideas and small acts of kindness to support those you love when they need it most — burning a CD of soothing music, sending cards, helping to restock a fridge, throwing in a load of laundry, and other ways people have found success in offering support and comfort.
“This book is speaking to a lot of people for a lot of different reasons, probably because we are all touched by cancer in some way. This project is interesting not only to people in Winnipeg, but also in other parts of Canada and in the U.S. People need concrete ways of helping when people are ill,” notes Erlanger who recently returned to Winnipeg after spending 24 years in California.
This is not the first project that Erlanger has initiated to help people in need. In 2010 she founded “More than Shoes” a program that provides running shoes and winter boots to children in need in Winnipeg and throughout the province.
“New proper fitting running shoes and warm winter boots are essential in order to get to school, play safely and learn comfortably,” says Erlanger, mother to Gabrielle and Jake (13) who are both now enjoying the winter activities that Winnipeg has to offer.
“We match businesses, teams, and organizations with schools. Last year, we put 2155 pairs of shoes on kids in need across the province and this year we just met our goal of 3000.”
With her new book “More than Soup” Erlanger is striving to make positive change in the world one step at a time. “More Than Soup” is available online at www.morethansoup.net or you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org ____________________________________________________________________________________________
This month, CNC is taking a closer look at compassion in our city. In addition to hosting a Town Hall Forum on the subject at the Winnipeg Free Press Cafe on January 23 at 7:00 pm, we’re also encouraging CNC reporters to write about compassion.