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“Home Cook Heroes” at Gift of Life Donor Program: Personal Chefs Association, Philadelphia Chapter

Among "Home Cook Heroes" at Gift of Life Donor Program: Personal Chefs Association, Philadelphia Chapter

“Home Cook Heroes” at Gift of Life Donor Program: Personal Chefs Association, Philadelphia Chapter

Alarms set for the crack of dawn, five Personal Chefs from various destinations throughout the Delaware Valley each traveled to the central meeting location as planned, 7:30 am arrival time. Destination: Gift of Life, Donor Program ‘Family House’ set at the corner of 4th and Callowhill Street in Philadelphia.

Menu du Jour: Brunch, prepared for currently residing guest families, at, as Gift of Life refers, the “home away from home for transplant patients and their families by providing temporary, affordable lodging and supportive services to those who travel to Philadelphia for transplant-related care.”


Similar in size to a commercial kitchen, the warmly designed Gift of Life Family Center area is fully stocked with cooking equipment, utensils, pantry items, and kitchen wares. The set-up enables diverse, rotating, volunteer teams of up to ten cooks at a- time to sign up on the website calendar and hospitably gather together bringing only their menu ingredients for preparing a home-cooked dinner as served each evening for currently residing guests, or the additional Brunch served on weekends.

Fresh baked goods are regularly welcomed in the Family Center kitchen, perhaps a pound cake, some cookies, a fruit pie, each choice another welcome touch, and a slice of homey respite displayed on a long counter for family members to perhaps relax a bit and unwind with a cup of coffee or beverage at any time, particularly when experiencing the long, trying days during those immensely stressful times for both patients and their families.


Today’s “Home Cook Heroes” affectionately referred at Gift of Life represented the Philadelphia Chapter of the Personal Chefs Association whose President, Missy Gurmankin, at “More Thyme For You” has been involved in the program since before its inception serving as a volunteer advisory committee capacity, and subsequently then, being the first person to cook a meal for the Family House guest families the day upon its opening. The infectious enthusiasm of Missy preparing meals at the Family House quickly evolved as one of the special annual community service efforts among the Personal Chefs group including; Lynn Lampe Lindquist of Cook on Call, Michele Bagley of Plate Expectations, Karen Docimo of Karen’s Chef Du Jour, and Emily Scott of The Wildflower Chef.


Meet Emily and Karen from left to right above, finishing up in the preparation tasks of prepping a huge bowl of brightly colored, assorted, fresh fruits contributed by Wegman’s, along with stacking ingredients into clear plastic glasses creating yogurt parfaits topped with whipped cream. 


Cook on Call, Lynn Lampe Lindquist swirls richly melted chocolate into the muffins, with the dry flour ingredients towards the day’s Brunch having been donated by Trader Joe’s.


While Michele Bagley attends to the sizzling, thick oven-cooked bacon strips and accompanying steaming hot sausage, eggs, and cheese casseroles.

Among "Home Cook Heroes" at Gift of Life Donor Program: Personal Chefs Association, Philadelphia Chapter

Personal Chef Association Chapter President, Missy, dressed in the green chef’s jacket above, joins Lynn and Karen for a brief photo shot between preparations displaying a couple of the day’s donated goods.


“Home Cook Heroes” volunteers cook- up special homemade meals for guest families on any given night or weekend register their services through the Family House mostly a month in advance, and among certain days of the week, even further in advance, thus viewing like a symbolic ‘giving’ list offering a testament to a deeply rooted sense of generosity, kindness, caring, in all, noble values bound within the grander sense of community.


From patients and their families awaiting transplants, hopeful, looking toward recoveries while at the Family House, to the “Home Cook Heroes” as the Personal Chefs Association today, offering a special source of sustaining nourishment for others, there within resides the presence of a uniquely shared table, no matter what the journey, each has been called into the Gift of Life.

To learn more about you and your special group becoming “Home Cook Heroes” and preparing a meal at the Gift of Life Family House click here.

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