Cooking Divas for Seniors provide much more than a meal for residents at The Villa in Hesperia they give care, attention, respect and connection.


Former Salon Diva business owner Sandra Ganis was motivated to take action to provide food for seniors when she read about the local Meals On Wheels program's cut funding.


"To me, it's important to feed, period, and I know that they have financial and/or physical limitations I feel that as the younger crowd we need to do something for them," Ganis said. "We're all going to be seniors, all have family members that are seniors."


And once she knew where she wanted to serve, The Villa apartment complex on Ninth Avenue, the rest fell into place.


"It was what I wanted to serve and cook," said Ganis, who was hooked when the apartment manager told her she could cook in the clubhouse kitchen. "A miracle, like God was with me that day."


The clubhouse offers the "younger crowd" the chance to serve a healthy meal that's hot and fresh as the seniors "sit down like the princes and princesses they are," showing them that they are cared about and respected, Ganis said.


And volunteers Kimberley Hill and Jillian Noss-Williams wanted to help with Ganis' cause.


"One of those things, it's not a second guessing thing," said Hill of offering her help right away. "I wasn't thinking, 'should I do it, shouldn't I do it?'"


After seeing the hardship her father faces now that he relies on a limited income, Noss-Williams compares that to the help needed for previous Meals on Wheels recipients.


"I feel what we're doing is we're not providing food, but we're giving them respect, that's the bottom line, respect showing that we care, showing that they deserve this," Ganis said.


"Like Sandra said, they deserve our respect, they enjoy it and that's the way it should be," Noss-Williams said. "We should take care of our community."


"It's important to help them because they've gone through enough in their own lives, they need a rest and deserve someone to take care of them," Hill said.


And not only do they provide a meal but a chance to socialize with other seniors, volunteers and visiting diva Mary Crothers.


With the experience similar to going out to a restaurant, Crothers said it's important to spend time with seniors who are often disappointed when people say they'll visit and don't show up.


"It's so important to always make people feel special," she said. "These ladies' cooking provides that."


"I just want to thank the ladies at the apartment complex and thank the residents for allowing us to come in and serve them," Ganis said. "It's an honor for us."


Ganis said, she hopes to have enough volunteers and donations to be able to feed seniors five days a week, as well as expand to another apartment complex. She also encourages other people in the community to adopt and take care of a senior home themselves.


The divas started on Aug. 26 and serve between 27 to 40 seniors a week and will serve Fridays in October. They do raffles and have had donations from Wal-Mart and The Brass Pickle in Victorville.


Those interested in making a donation or volunteering can call Ganis at 760-948-8808 or visit www.Facebook.com/OurFoodDrive.