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DOROT Westchester


Sarah Kernochen & Miranda Parry — Homelessness Prevention Program

DOROT volunteer since:

Sarah and Miranda Sarah: February 2009
Miranda: 2010

How did you get involved with DOROT?

I was looking for volunteer work that didn’t require a weekly year–round commitment, because that doesn’t fit with a freelance writing and traveling schedule. Unable to find anything with a more flexible commitment, I chanced upon, which promptly paired me with DOROT. Initially I was volunteering to serve meals at the Homelessness Prevention Program (HPP), but when I called, I was asked, “Can you cook?” Well, I can cook. And then some. So that was that.

Later, my friend Miranda Parry offered her help, which I desperately needed, particularly with chopping onions. So now we are chef and sous chef, and get to schmooze while we’re at it.

My friend Sarah told me about it and it sounded wonderful, so I decided to join her. I loved it and became a regular.

What type of volunteer activities do you do at DOROT?

I cook and sponsor a three–course dinner one Thursday a month.

I am the assistant chef for monthly Thursday night meals, which involves preparing the food, and helping serve it. My friend Sarah is the chef, and we make really wonderful food for about 40–50 people.

In what ways has your DOROT volunteer experience impacted your life?

Since experiencing the last years of my parents’ life, I’ve wanted to care in some way for the elderly. Cooking is caring. It fills a hole in my heart.

We are so appreciated by everyone there. It has been an uplifting and joyful experience.

What motivates you to continue volunteering at DOROT?

The gratitude of the residents. I do love to see empty plates come back for more.

It’s become part of my life. I love the whole process, the cooking with a friend, the serving this wonderful food to everyone. I look forward to cooking day.

Most memorable volunteer moment:

One snowy winter day, I was preparing the main course in my apartment kitchen, an ambitious French lamb stew with white haricots. Usually I catch a taxi to bring the food up to DOROT, then prepare the rest of the meal in the shelter kitchen. However, the snow became a blizzard. By the time I was done with the stew, the snow had piled up so high that I feared I would never get home after serving the meal at DOROT. So Elazar Stepansky, who works at the HPP, sent two burly residents in a car to pick up the food, and off they went into the blizzard, barely making it back to DOROT. I was told that they and the others polished off the stew and sent compliments to the chef.

I think the part that stands out for me is when we arrive at DOROT everyone starts gathering in the dining room, and asking what the menu is that night. There is a great feeling of expectation, just like at a holiday meal.

What would you want other volunteers to know about volunteering at DOROT?

DOROT is warmly welcoming and well–run, and obviously has good associations for and relationships with the residents who go on to permanent housing, because they often return for the home–cooked Thursday meal.

Try it once, and I am almost certain you will be back. What you do is so appreciated, and the work itself is fun and fulfilling.

Anything else you would like to share?

I think volunteering with a friend is really great. Sarah and I spend time together, visiting while we work. So, you are catching up with a friend, while also doing something really great for others.

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