Project 50/50 – Adding a Little Passion To My Passion

For those of you who know me, either from this site or in real life, you know I love to cook. That’s pretty much a no-brainer since I’ve contributed to this site. Those of you who know me also know when I cook I like to do it big. Or perhaps I should say I like to do it BIG!

I started cooking when I was pretty young. I was enchanted by the sights, smells, and flavors of the food my parents cooked. Both of my parents were good cooks, but my father was really amazing at it. I recall holiday meals that were so large he went out and bought a second refrigerator for them. For me, my earliest memories of food and cooking were connected to pleasure and comfort. I believe this is one of the reasons I enjoy cooking so much.

To me, cooking is also associated with giving. If someone cooks me a meal, regardless of the type of meal, I consider it a gift they have given me. When I cook something for others I take a lot of pride and joy in my food and love to see the reactions on their faces when they taste something I have made. I think that the love and passion I put into cooking for others is what makes it so special to me. I really feel I’m giving a part of myself when I cook for others.

Recently I have been thinking about how often I cook, and how often I cook big. When I take on a big project my friends and co-workers are usually the beneficiaries of it, as I tend to bring a lot of it in to work for them. No offense to my co-workers and friends as they are always appreciative, but I have been wanting to do something…. MORE. I was using my phone to access my Facebook page and thinking about some sort of new direction for my cooking. What to do, what to do? And there it was, on Facebook!

I’m a follower of Project 50/50. For those of you who don’t know about it, Project 50/50 was started by a young lady named Shay who found herself homeless. Shay decided to do something positive with this and started her Project. Basically, she travels all 50 states in 50 weeks looking for ways to assist the homeless people of our country while being homeless herself. (I encourage you to Google Project 50/50 and see some of the amazing things they have accomplished)

There was the answer I was looking for, right on Facebook! I could help out by cooking for some people who didn’t have much if anything. Now that I got the idea, how do I get connected with a group who could use my services? Facebook worked once, it was bound to work again…

I put out a status update asking if anyone knew of any groups who work with the homeless as I wanted to cook for them. My friend and co-worker Juan really helped out and got me connected with a local church who provides a meal and Bible Study once a week for the homeless. This was my opportunity! Juan had given me an idea that about 35 people may attend, so I went a little bigger. Now for the menu…. Of course, my first endeavor would be smoking; I had to make a good first impression. So the Fourth of July weekend and holiday saw me smoking for two whole days. By the time the smoke had cleared, I sent them around 40 or so pounds of smoked chicken and ribs.

About a week later I received a sign in sheet, along with a very nice thank you note. It seems word had spread and they had more than expected. The sign in sheet ad 40 names on it and the note said up to 15 more people didn’t sign in. This really made my heart happy, and when I spoke with Rick, he said it was a huge hit with everyone. SUCCESS!!! I’m doing what I love and helping others at the same time, this is what I was looking for.

A couple of weeks later I decided to make them lasagna. I put a status on Facebook letting people know what I was doing, and I got offers for donations. Now, how cool is that?!? My friend Juan and his wife Marella donated Ricotta cheese; my friend Melissa donated lasagna pans, pasta sauce, and noodles; and my friend Lisa hooked us up with salad supplies! I spent all day cooking and pulled off 5 large pans of lasagna for the homeless, a smaller pan for myself, and another smaller pan for my friend.

I’m really hoping this can turn into a semi-regular thing for me. I also hope that I can attend one of these events. I feel truly blessed to be able to cook, and to help some people out by using my talent. I would like to encourage anyone reading this to help out as well. You don’t have to smoke 40 pounds of meat, but any donation to a food pantry or shelter would be appreciated. And who knows, you may just feel good doing it 😉