On naval vessels, the cook is an extremely important crew member. The cook is managing the appetites and gastronomic joys of a crew who spends days and weeks together working hard in the tight and confined space of a large ship. Long ago, the ship’s cook would even sell the excess grease and cooking oil left over from a voyage when they returned to port. The cook would take the money earned from the sale to buy fellow crew members sundry luxuries. That practice is where we get the term “Slush Fund.”
The role of the cook is an essential one. Food nourishes the body, making incredible work possible. The cook creates human fuel, and keeps morale up. Eventually you’d have only a skeleton crew left and it’d be nearly impossible to get anything great done. (Sorry. Jokes happen.) Cooks power their team, they motivate, they promote and they catalyze greatness.
Food for the soul
Yvonne Garcia is just such a cook. No slush funds for her. Service is its own reward, and cooking is its own joy. For Yvonne, cooking went from a personal passion to a new way to serve. She treasures the opportunity to offer delicious meals to some amazing volunteers, and persons with disabilities. Over the last few years, she has volunteered her time to cook for staff and participants of Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado, Adaptive Adventures and most recently S.T.A.R.S. (STeamboat Adaptive Recreational Sports). The latter makes skiing and other outdoor mountain sports possible for people with special needs. Why does she do it? Because “helping builds a sense of community, sense of belonging, and a sense of family.”
Yvonne is a “fireball.” She has passion and motivation so powerful and potent that it energizes the people around her. She “cooks” nourishment through her actions as much as through food. She has a history of it. Volunteerism and service began with two years in AmeriCorp where she led teams of 18 - 24 year olds on missions to benefit nonprofits all across the United States. AmeriCorp sent Yvonne to New Orleans and Biloxi where she and her crews helped in ongoing rebuilding efforts in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Even though she had already been giving back, seeing the decimated neighborhoods, the flood damage, and the union of persons from all races, creeds and backgrounds struck an infinitely resonant chord.
Now, Yvonne Garcia, the cook, works in Marketing at the beautiful Denver Botanic Gardens by day, and inside the other 16 hours each day she cooks up a storm of compassion, powering other volunteers like a generosity generator, and filling bellies for folks with a wide range of needs. Saving the world, well, that’s going to take a long voyage. Folks are going to get hungry. They’re going to need good food. They’re going to need food for Good.