Griffin, 16, has loved cooking for as long as he can remember. His first memory of being in the kitchen was making a boxed cake mix with his mom. Ever since then, he’s been experimenting with new meals and recipes, even cooking themed meals with his brother every Christmas for their family. It is this appetite for experimentation that led him to HIP’s Senior Meal Program. With an entire summer full of free time, Griffin decided to sign up for volunteer meal prep in the HIP kitchen, where he quickly became a staple. There, he was able to meet amazing new people while growing his passion for cooking.
“I feel like everybody has something they like to do that’s almost like a puzzle,” says Griffin. “So for some people that’s doing math problems, or finding the right way to word a sentence in a paper. But for me, finding the right combination of things that taste good is kind of a very satisfying puzzle.” Griffin also applies this philosophy to music, another passion of his. At his high school, students are encouraged to write their own songs, and Griffin uses his skills on the guitar and trombone to make the music his own. “When you’re playing the music that’s written, that’s really cool, and making it sound good is challenging. But once you’re improvising or writing your own thing, that’s a whole other animal. Same thing in the kitchen.”
While there is usually a recipe to be followed for HIP meals, there’s always room for a little exploration. And it helps to have some seasoned explorers by your side. This is something that Griffin really enjoys about HIP meal prep, where most of the other volunteers are several decades older than him and therefore have a lot of know-how to share. While Griffin is confident and trusts his instincts, he embraces the opportunity to learn. “I have certain ways that I do things, but a lot of times the ways that other people do things, from cutting an onion to planning out the whole meal, is totally different. And to work with that and see where my ideas worked and where they didn’t work as well as other people’s, and then how to combine those and store them for later — it’s a valuable skill, I think.”
Beyond developing skills and community, volunteer meal prep has given Griffin a sense of enjoyment and purpose. During his freshman year in high school, he volunteered at the Seattle World School, where 35 young children speaking different languages all came together under one teacher to learn English. This opportunity opened his eyes to the joys of volunteering and gave him valuable experience with diverse populations. “I really like meeting people who are different than me. That can be here in the kitchen, meeting people who are not my age or from the same background, or traveling…I’m always up for meeting new people. And I think it would be valuable if everybody thought that way! A little bit more open to difference.”
We couldn’t agree more! And we thank you, Griffin, for bringing your passion and creativity to those in need.