From Guest Blogger Amy Dziekonski….
Amy is a Program Officer at the DC Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation and recently visited our Brainfood Kitchen for her annual site visit. She later wrote an article for her organization’s monthly newsletter about her day at Brainfood.
Here’s what Amy had to say:
Brainfood, I sometimes joke, is a great grantee because they feed me at the end of every site visit. I must admit that this is a pretty nice perk for being their program officer, but the real reason I love to step into their kitchen has nothing to do with the food and everything to do with their young people. Let me take you, for a moment, into their kitchen…
It’s a cold January night around 4 pm in an industrial kitchen in the basement of a church in the heart of Chinatown. The space is filled with twenty DC high school students chatting about upcoming exams, admiring a classmate’s new cell phone, and discussing the silly thing a teacher did at school that day. Mixed in with this crowd you will find Brainfood staff member Carina Gervacio and three Brainfood volunteers conversing with the students.
The first thing that strikes you is how at ease these high schoolers are in this kitchen. You must first know that these students come from neighborhoods all over DC. They represent a diverse array of backgrounds, personalities and interests. Many had never met before they showed up for the first day of Brainfood a few months ago. And yet there is already a palpable level of comfort and camaraderie between these young people and the staff.
Carina checks the clock—it’s a bit after 4 pm—and announces it’s time to start. Everyone quickly circles up around her table. It’s apparent by the small piece of chicken on the cutting board in front of her that today’s class is on chicken wings. But before she gets to that she pauses to have each participant and volunteer say their name and what they would like to work on today. “I want to work on my knife skills”, “I want to focus on following the recipe”, or “I want to be a good group member” are some of the goals shared. They are all greeted with a positive nod or word from Carina who finishes the circle with her own goal for the class. No one is left out.