"Whoa" is the first word that comes out of Tom Hundley’s mouth as he enters the Chicken Soup Brigade kitchen for the first time.
Many clients have never been inside the Georgetown charity’s kitchen before, but it’s where many of their meals have been prepared, wrapped and packed for years.
When Hundley was undergoing his second round of chemotherapy for colon cancer last year, he was accepted into the Chicken Soup Brigade, whose volunteers cook and deliver healthy meals to homebound clients suffering from chronic illnesses such as HIV and cancer.
“Something amazing happened for me was that right in the middle of the darkest moment….Someone bump-bump-bumped on my door, and I thought, Oh no, what’s going on you know?” Hundley said. “So I go down to the door and there's this great big burly guy with a couple of grocery bags in his hand. It was just a few days before Thanksgiving. And one of the things he had was this amazing Thanksgiving Day pie.”
Every holiday season, Chicken Soup Brigade – a food program under Lifelong, an organization that helps marginalized communities overcome barriers to health – rolls out their "Easy as Pie" fundraiser. For every pie the community buys, clients like Hundley get one too.
“I think it was cherry pie. I don’t like cherry pie, but when I ate it I loved it,” Hundley said, but then remembered it was pumpkin pie, which Brigade cooks are preparing again.
This year, director Paul Getzel says chefs are making pumpkin pie, chocolate pie and a gluten-free Canadian butter tart.
“All of our clients are living with cancer or cardiovascular disease, HIV or other illnesses. Around the holidays that can be particularly lonely, and particularly pronounced if you’re not feeling so hot,” Getzel said.
No matter the flavor, Chef Sunshine says they all have at least one ingredient in common.
“With anything here we put a lot of love and our hearts in it, just so people feel appreciated, that someone cares about them,” Chef Sunshine said.
For Hundley, he can taste it. And rounded the kitchen counters thanking and shaking hands with the cooks he says helped with his recovery. He is in remission now.
Find more information on the Easy as Pie fundraiser.