Student Volunteers Become Home Cook Heroes

By Purnell T. Cropper | March 18, 2013


While most students were heading home for spring break, executive members of Arcadia for a Better Community (ABC) Shannon Goerke ’12, Kate Slenzak ’15, Jeremy Garcia ’14 and Jayson Flores ’14 gathered groceries and prepared to drive into Philadelphia. They were set to take part in a Gift of Life Family House program called Home Cook Heroes.

Garcia, a member of Arcadia University’s men’s tennis team, shared his motivation to help the families in the house. “I opted to volunteer at Home Cook Heroes because I believe that we should feel obligated to help those who are less fortunate and blessed than we are,” he said.

The Gift of Life Family House, which opened in July 2011, provides services for patients and caregivers waiting for or undergoing organ transplant at any of its eight Philadelphia area transplant centers. Affiliated with the Gift of Life Donor Program, it provides a “home away from home” for transplant patients and their families. Home Cook Heroes program invites groups of up to 10 individuals to prepare brunch, baked goods or dinner for the families residing in the House.

Once the students arrived at the House, they were greeted warmly by staff and then led into the kitchen, where they had approximately two hours to prepare a meal for 35 people. The menu for the night included a macaroni and cheese casserole, a fresh salad, and brownies. The group also brought chips and dip, ice cream, sodas, juices and water.

Through their combined efforts, Goerke, Slenzak, Garcia and Flores were able to have the buffet-style meal set out right on time. House staff even invited them to join residents at the table for the meal.

Slenzak, who is involved with a number of campus organizations, including the Orientation Planning Executive Committee, was pleasantly surprised by the experience. “When ABC decided to participate in the Home Cook Heroes Program, I assumed I would be chopping lots of vegetables and cooking. I was surprised at how much more it truly was. Getting to interact with the residents of the House gave some much-needed perspective,” said Slenzak.

She went on to add, “The families that dwell in the House are so appreciative of every home-cooked meal they receive, as it means one less hospital meal they have to eat.”

Before the group left the House, Goerke explained, “I was extremely impressed with Home Cook Heroes. The organization was organized and the staff was very friendly.” She continued, “I am looking forward to continuing to grow the relationship between Home Cook Heroes and Arcadia for a Better Community, because I believe both can greatly benefit from the other.”

Reflecting on the experience, Garcia explained that his lack of cooking expertise did not affect his experience with Home Cook Heroes. “Even though I had limited experience in the kitchen, we all worked together to cook a delicious dinner and had a laugh while doing it. I can speak for all of us when I say that it was a rewarding experience that opened our eyes to this great program.”
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Get Involved

To work with the Gift of Life Family House, visit the organization’s website, To join Arcadia for a Better Community, email Slenzak ( or Flores (