Flowers in hands

Being of service

Flowers in hands

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I grew up in a middle class neighborhood in Southern California. Both of my parents commuted long hours to and from work, while my sisters and I rode the bus to school. We were latchkey kids and didn’t know it any other way.

As a family we did absolutely everything together. We cleaned the house on the weekends, made sure all of the cars were bright and shiny, and held skateboard competitions at the top of the street for all of the kids on the block. Mom was in the toy business so would offer up the latest and greatest Mattel item to the winner. I felt average and somehow privileged at the same time.

We seemed like a super normal family to me except we had a pretty mighty daily chore list which none of my friends ever seemed to have. Dragging ourselves out of our overly-chlorinated pool and attending to this massive showcase of drudgery was clearly a huuuge act of service, right?

Emptying the trash, unloading the dishwasher, starting dinner, walking the dogs and setting the table all represented what I thought of as service. After all I wasn’t getting paid to do it and I was technically “serving” my family, duh.

In 2016 when Culinary Angels was founded one of the very first things I noticed was the amazing feeling of connection I had when going into the kitchen and being with the other volunteers. This feeling was very different than what I had experienced as a child.

We laughed, chopped, shared and roasted our love into every dish, and soon I felt a deep sense of belonging. It was my church, my family and absolutely where I belonged.

I am forever grateful for this amazing opportunity to give back and have a platform to be of service to those in need. To have the chance to show a stranger that people care and remind them to have hope.

To the many big-hearted, hard-working volunteers who show up every week, I’d like to say thank you for being my family and helping me with my chore list.

With deep gratitude,
Lisa McNaney
Founder, Executive Director