My good friends Perry, Terry and I recently had the opportunity to teach some cooking classes at a summer camp run by Sparks of Hope. We were invited by our friends Lee Ann and Chris Mead the founders of this incredible group of people. Their mission is to empower children who are survivors of physical or sexual abuse to thrive. That is what these camps are all about. The staff and volunteers for Sparks of Hope give their all to these children. I feel privileged for the opportunity to work with them.
One of our missions at Hautemealz.com is helping people learn to cook for themselves. We believe in the “give a man a fish he eats for a day, Teach a man to fish he eats for a life time”. The problem with this is if he doesn’t know how to cook all those fish it is a moot point. This is when we started a program called “My Kitchen“. It is geared towards teaching youth to cook for themselves. So earlier this year we started working with Impact NW’s independent living program teaching nutrition, shopping and basic cooking to youth coming out of the foster care system. Teaching these kids that dinner doesn’t have to come out of the drive-thru, a box or a can. As they progressed through the classes their confidence and their willingness to try new things grew.
Now fast forward a few months to the Sparks of Hope camps. Watching a child over the course of a few days go from “I can’t do it”, to “look at what I can do”.
Teaching these wonderful little ones how to cook a basic French omelet and a fresh Pomodoro sauce with penne pasta. Watching them flip that first omelet and encourage their class mates as they tried to do the same. Or seeing their confidence grow as they learned to dice tomatoes and make a sauce that is simple fast and way better tasting than what comes out of a can. They wanted everyone who was nearby to taste what they had just created.
Chris, Lee Ann and all of the other volunteers are incredible. They work day and night to make sure these kids have a safe fun place to learn that they are more than victims.
While our part of of the Sparks of Hope camps is just a small part of what these kids learn. I hope we can add a one more thing that these kids can grab ahold of to help them succeed in life.
There is a story about a an old man on the beach throwing starfish back into the ocean one at a time. Some one tells him there are to many and he can’t make a difference. The old man listened calmly and then bent down to pick up another starfish and threw it into the sea. “It made a difference to that one.”
Somedays the work can get to you but if we can make a difference for just one kid it has all been worth it.
PS. Everyone has something to give. I cook, that is what I can give. What is something you can give? If everyone gave just a little our world would be a much better place.