Favorite Home Cook Heroes Moments

at Gift of Life Family House

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These memorable moments were submitted by Home Cook Hero volunteers. You can submit your favorite moments from volunteering in our kitchen, too! Click here to get started.

Team Name: Further Her in Action Submitted by: Robyn

“I am a Donor Mom and love what the Family House does for families. My women’s empowerment company, Further Her in Action, loves to help me give back in this way. Yesterday was 17 years since my son died and I donated his organs.”

Team Name: Team Eddie XX Submitted by: Diane

“My husband Ed became an organ, eye and tissue donor on Nov 19, 1997. To honor Ed and celebrate 20 years of saving lives, my whole family joined me as we cooked a delicious meal for the grateful residents of the Family House. It was truly a wonderful night!”

Team Name: Team Luca Submitted by: Rick

“Until recently (Covid) I would drive the Saturday AM Shuttle .

When my grandson was having his transplant, my daughter didn’t need to use the family House …But she met another mom at CHOP who was staying there. It was she (the friend) who sparked my interest in giving back to the Gift of Life Family House .

Having Team Luca cook brunch on my Saturday was the best! Friends and family got to see firsthand what a great place the Family House is and how good the staff and families make you feel for volunteering!

Amelia  (who wasn’t even working ) came in to have brunch with us ! It was an awesome event for all.”

Team Name: Recycled Man Cooks Submitted by: Mark

“I received a heart transplant in 2008 at Hahnemann Hospital before the Family House was built.  My wife Terry and I were thrilled the join with Erin and Derek Fitzgerald and others to provide a wonderful Italian feast for the guests in January, 2020. Just a small way to give back!!!”

Team Name: Captivated by Collin’s Smile Submitted by: Nicole

“It’s hard to pick just one moment to share from our Home Cook Heroes experiences, because each one has been unique and special and so gratifying.  But if I had to pick, I would have to say the times we served dinner on what would have been our son Collin’s birthday.  While certainly not the way we would have ever dreamed we would spend his birthdays, it has turned out to be a great way for us to remember and celebrate him.  The most memorable one would probably be what would have been Collin’s 16th birthday.  We brought some of his favorite party foods and of course, we always bring birthday cake and sing to him.  Various friends and family have joined us over the years and it has become a special tradition and our way of remembering and celebrating him.  Collin became an organ donor at just 5 years old in November 2004.  He generously donated both kidneys, his liver, intestine and heart.  So cooking at the Family House is the perfect way to honor him, his gifts and his recipients.”

Team Name: R.A.D. Family Submitted by: Amy

“Spending time with the families staying at the Family House and playing bingo with them. They shared stories and it really just felt like we were having a Sunday dinner with an extended family.  We are so grateful for Gift of Life and our family took on the name of R.A.D. to highlight that we are a family of recipients, advocates and donors and wanted to give back to our Gift of Life community in honor of my moms 70th and my 50th birthdays instead of having a party.”

Team Name: Hahnemann Hospital Second Chance Heart Transplant Support Group Submitted by: Terry

“My husband Mark Meade received a heart transplant in 2008. This photo is from 2012. The Family House had not been built in 2008 or it would have dramatically changed my experience as his caregiver. I traveled daily for months back and forth to New Jersey. “

Team Name: Jefferson Perioperative Nurses/OR Nurses Submitted by: Rae

“One patient and his wife were so grateful for our meal and since we were nurses, they shared their journey of waiting and then finally receiving a transplant. Their appreciation and warmth gave us such a gift, as we were able to hear how we made a difference! When you work in the OR, you rarely hear or know how you touch and impact people’s lives. Looking forward to coming back to cook again!”

Team name: Pat and Peters Pals Submitted by: Joan Zekonis

“We started coming to the family house 6 years ago after I attended a conference at GOL. Your staff was so passionate and sincere about the process, so I wanted to get more involved. It started with just my son and me, but we would return at least once a year and every time another friend or family member would join us.   It brings so much joy for all of us to plan our dinner and come to the house to help patients and families. When we started we didn’t know anyone involved in the donor/recipient process but since then we have had a family member become a donor.   Home Cook Hero’s is a special family/friend “event” we look forward too.”

Team name: The Nagorsky Family Submitted by: Julie Nagorsky

“I have enjoyed volunteering with my daughter, Sydney and some of her friends over the years as a Home Cook Hero. This past summer prior to Sydney and her friends leaving to start college, we were able to bring her friends and their moms all together to cook.  It was such a special evening for me as I have watched my daughter grow up cooking at The Gift of Life House since she was 12 years old.  We had promised to make it an annual tradition and we are hoping and praying that we can be there to cook in August!”

Team name: TRIO Philadelphia Submitted by: Jim Gleason

“Our local Philadelphia chapter of TRIO (Transplant Recipients International Organization) came over to bake for the Family House after one of our regular chapter meetings at the Gift of Life office.  What a fun time was had by one and all while supporting patients and families who are following in our own transplant journey.”

Team name: Recycled Man Cooks Submitted by: Mark Meade

“I received a heart transplant in 2008 at Hahnemann Hospital before the Family House was built.  My wife Terry and I were thrilled to join with Erin and Derek Fitzgerald and others to provide a wonderful Italian feast for the guests in January, 2020. Just a small way to give back!”

Team name: City Sisters Submitted by: Karen Rodgers

“CITY SISTERS gathers annually to cook for the residents of the Family House.

We do this yearly to honor and remember our family member/friend Debbie who was a donor.  We also honor our dear friends:  Bob who was a recipient and Joe who is a recipient.  Stay safe and well!  God Bless.”

Team name: Temple University – Gamma Iota Sigma Submitted by: Mary Smith

“Our Eric graduated from Temple University in 2011 and was a member of the Gamma Iota Sigma Fraternity.  He was an organ donor.  After his passing that year, Gamma chose to honor Eric and another Gamma member, Kevin, by fundraising to underwrite a guest room at The Family House.  In this picture, my daughter and I were invited to participate in serving a meal with some amazing Gamma members.  It touched our hearts to be included.”

Team name: Eaton/Van Kleunen Family Submitted by: Wendy Eaton

“Our family served a meal at the Family House on Good Friday in 2019. We like to give back since we were blessed with Ed receiving the gift of life in 2009.  We enjoy talking with the residents and giving them words of encouragement and hope.  We have also participated in the Donor Dash and Wish List drives.  Thank you for the beautiful facility you provide for patients and families!”

Team name: Lincoln Financial Group Submitted by: Tatiana Hersh

“Volunteers from various Lincoln departments joined together to cook for families one afternoon a few years ago”

Team name: Brusich/McGinty Family Grateful for the Gift Submitted by: Joanne Brusich

“Our family has spent the last 5 years together cooking, baking, decorating and enjoying Thanksgiving with the families, guests and staff at The Family House. I stayed there after my transplant in 2015 and am so blessed to share Thanksgiving Day with so many wonderful families and staff connected to the transplant community. Our favorite moments come during dinner when we sit with families, listen to their stories and share ours. Every year we get to reconnect with old friends, meet new friends and still get to share our day together! Our cooks and helpers range in age from 6-85! Thank you Gift of Life Family House for always being there when you’re needed the most. Looking forward to Thanksgiving 2020! 💙💚💙💚”

Team name: Team Kellie Submitted by: Sherri Baur

“My family and I cook at the Gift of Life Family House a couple times a year.  My favorite memory on top of all of the wonderful people we meet was when we set the grill on fire while cooking burgers. Everything ended up being fine, but very memorable moment. We are looking forward to getting back to the house to cook.

Be well everyone.”

Team name: GOL of Family House Board Submitted by: Janice Waitkus

“The first time I volunteered to cook was the-advisory board team! We each had an assignment and came ready to prepare and cook and bring what was needed!”

Team name: Gamma Iota Sigma (Temple University) Submitted by: Daniel Polhamus

“I always love going to the Family House to volunteer. My favorite moment was going in November 2018, when I went with a group of students to make a spaghetti dinner. This trip stands out because our organization selected the Family House as our Charity of Choice for that school year. I had participated in some fundraising events at Temple, but it was very rewarding to have the opportunity to volunteer at the Family House.“

Team name: Ed’s Eyes Submitted by: Dee Daugherty

“Our group, Ed’s Eyes, volunteers at the Family House to honor my stepfather, Ed Mitchell. We have an enjoyable experience every time we plan and prepare a meal for the Family House, so it is difficult to choose a favorite. In July 2016, we prepared dishes that centered around an Under the Sea theme, so we had a particularly good time with that one. We can’t wait to get back in the kitchen and make another meal as soon as we are able. Stay well, everyone!”

Team name: Four Ladies and Friends Submitted by: Sandy Kelly

“We have met so many nice people! We join another volunteer group to do some brunches and volunteer with them at Mcgee Rehab as well.  This photo is another event we volunteer for….the Donor Dash.”

Team name: Jefferson Preoperative Nurses/OR Nurses Submitted by: Rae Fierro

“One patient and his wife were so grateful for our meal and since we were nurses, they shared their journey of waiting and then finally receiving a transplant. Their appreciation and warmth gave us such a gift, as we were able to hear how we made a difference! When you work in the OR, you rarely hear or know how you touch and impact people’s lives.

Looking forward to coming back to cook again!”

Team name: Keith’s Crusaders Submitted by: Eileen Hoff

“What an amazing morning it was to prepare brunch at the Gift of Life Family House! We met so many awesome families and made friends. We shared this day with our dad, Keith, who received his lung transplant two years ago. He was able to participate in this wonderful day with a few of his children, a daughter in law, four of his granddaughters, and his wife!

A few years ago this never would have been possible. We are so grateful. We were honored to be able to give back just a little bit to the Gift of Life Family House! We cannot wait to be able to do it again in the near future.”

Team name: April + Roman Submitted by: April Hennessey

“My son and I cherish our one-on-one time together baking treats as Home Cook Heroes. And often times the smell of cupcakes baking in the oven always seems to attract a guest and we all end up in a lovely conversation.”

Team name: Team Trion Submitted by: Anna Li

“Our group from Trion had a wonderful time making baked goods for the families staying at the Family House. Thank you to the Family House for all that you do to help those in need!”

Team name: Addison’s Angels Submitted by: Brittany Moore

“We have only had two experiences so far but they were both incredible. Beyond words! We have already booked four more sessions in the upcoming 3 years. We love it. Just the warm feeling you get when seeing the smiles on the guests faces as they eat the meal you prepare. The conversations you have, the friendly staff, the environment. Sharing our daughters story. All of it, we cannot get enough! Definitely one of our FAVORITE ways to give back in honor of our daughter Addison!”

Team name: Team Spiers Submitted by: Lauren Savage

“My family and I discovered the Family House after my brother suddenly passed away in July 2011. To honor my brother, each month we partake in the Home Cook Heroes program. We have met so many amazing transplant recipients/donors and their families while cooking at the Family House! I love that this is truly a FAMILY experience for us. Here are Kevin and Rhae, 2 of our younger “assistants” relaxing in the Family House Legacy Garden after one of our nights cooking there!”

Team name: Team Spiers Submitted by: Denise Schmidt

“We loved spending the holiday season with the Family House Guests and singing holiday songs with them.”

Team name: Ryan’s Shamrocks Submitted by: Carol McCloud

“We have so many great memories as Home Cook Heroes. We love coming on Ryan’s “Angelversary” and his birthday each year, sharing his story and his gift while helping others.”

Team name: Gurmankins, Wortzels and Rosenthols Submitted by: Missy Gurmankin

“Christmas Day 2012, our friends, including our kids who were home from college, cooked a festive Christmas dinner at the Gift of Life Family House. 

There was a beautiful family spending the holiday at the GOLFH while they waited for their young son to receive a lung transplant.  Their entire family was there together along with ours. 

After dinner, we all sat down and created cookie cottages made from graham crackers and frosting and decorated with lots of candy.  It was one of the most fun and memorable Christmases my family and friends have ever spent together. Thank you for the opportunity and the memories!”

Team name: Fight for Frank Submitted by: Mary Collin

“Our daughter, Christine (in white at left) organized several brunches in memory of her late husband, Frank. Frank donated kidneys, corneas, heart valves, and more after a brain aneurysm.

Christine was a young widow and new mom to 8 month-old Lucas, working full-time as a special needs teacher. She managed to get us (mother of Frank; aunt; cousin; mom – me at right in green; dad; friends; others) together for this act of love.

However, Gift of Life House was a lifeline for HER in this critical and sad time.”


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