Eight-year-old Maya Hancock has been helping prepare meals for people experiencing homelessness for more than two years now at St. Clouds in Madrona. She takes time off from school once a month to pursue her love of cooking and helping people.
“There’s a lot of homeless people,” Maya said. “I feel sorry for them. Some kids don’t even get an education.”
“It’s important for her to come,” said her mother Nicolette Hancock, who joins her at the restaurant’s monthly Homeless Cooking event. “She feels like it’s a commitment.”
The monthly Homeless Cooking event was started by original St. Clouds owners John Platt and Paul Butler in 2001, and Michael McGloin has kept the 17-year-old program going since taking over the business in June 2017.
“It felt like a unique program that deserved to keep going,” said McGloin during the Homeless Cooking event on Wednesday, March 21.
Homeless Cooking takes place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the third Wednesday of the month, and the meals are distributed across nine tent cities and shelters in Seattle.
“It’s really cool,” McGloin said. “They’re so appreciative, really appreciative.”
The next Homeless Cooking will be on April 18.
“I’m grateful for them,” Hancock said. “This is a really good opportunity to teach my child how to be a good citizen and contribute.”
Volunteers are asked to bring some vegetables — about enough for a dozen people — a knife, cutting board and their kitchen skills.
While many volunteers were chopping up veggies, making marinades and squeezing lemons, others were in the kitchen cooking up the 80 pounds of pork loin, 50 pounds of sockeye salmon and 15 pounds of rockfish.
Leanne Beane has been volunteering for a decade, and found out about Homeless Cooking from her former classmate Betsy Johnson, who has since passed.
“At our high school reunion, she told us about this, and we came in, and have been coming back ever since,” Beane said. “She was here from the very beginning, and got us into this.”
Beane is one of a number of longtime volunteers that go by the collective name “The Chopinistas.”
“It’s the camaraderie, but it’s also the rush of doing something to help people,” Beane said, “because you don’t always know how.”
Fi Mohammed started volunteering with Homeless Cooking in late 2017, after a friend who’d been coming for years asked him if he’d be interested in participating.
“It’s been a great experience since then,” Mohammed said, “plus, I love cooking.”
People wanting more information about Homeless Cooking can call 206-726-1522 or email email@example.com. St. Clouds is at 1131 34th Ave..