This week’s blog is written by Dion McGill, SCY Communications and Community Outreach Manager, with help from the SCHROA Team!
I’m a firm believer that “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” We work really hard here at Strengthening Chicago’s Youth, as do our colleagues in the larger Mary Ann & J. Milburn Smith Child Health Research, Outreach, and Advocacy (SCHROA) Center. But sometimes, you simply have to slow down and smell the pie.
While having a brief discussion with members of the SCY Team, our colleague Rodolfo walked over.
“Would anyone be interested in some pumpkin pie?”
Now, let me take a moment to interject here that our colleague Rodolfo is a great baker. Kudos to him for always offering the tastiest wares to the SCY Team.
I wasn’t sure about my coworkers, but the answer for me is always yes. We sauntered over to the area of our floor occupied by Healthy Communities. Our colleagues at Healthy Communities help children thrive by bringing a community of care to kids in the community, ranging from amazing partnership programs with Chicago schools, to the new Lurie Children’s Mobile Health Unit.
As we stood around for a minute eating pie, we began talking, and laughing. I’m a firm believer that laughter is one of the greatest bits of self-care that you can offer yourself. As we continued chatting, I began asking my coworkers,
“What’s your favorite pie, and from where?”
Initially, the responses seemed to break down into 2 camps:
“Pumpkin Pie from Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits” said Rodolfo De Jesus, Community Outreach Specialist for Healthy Communtites, and baking extraordinaire. Gabi Sanchez, Program Asst. with SCY agreed that BBPS was the best, but she craved a different flavor; “Chocolate Pie! So good!”
However, several others felt that Hoosier Mama Pie Company is the way to go.
“That’s a really hard question,” said Leslie Helmcamp, Associate Director of Policy for SCHROA and Policy Manager for SCY. After a few moments of contemplation, “Orange Cream Pie…with the Pecan Crust. I didn’t think I’d like it, but it’s really good! Hoosier Mama makes a really good pie!”
“I’m not that into pie. It’s not my first choice,” said Kate Spitzer-Cohn, Program Coordinator for SCY. “My brother makes an amazing pumpkin cheesecake for the holidays. It is absolutely amazing.”
Kate proceeded to taste the pumpkin pie we were all noshing on.
“Just doesn’t do anything for me, but Hoosier Mama has an amazing pie there. It’s a Chocolate Chess pie. It’s like a brownie pie. So good.”
Former SCY team member and current Employee Volunteer Coordinator Antonette Rabor, said that her favorite pie was Key Lime. “I need to feel it right here,” she said enthusiastically, pointing at the hinge of her jaw bone.”
Lindsey Arenberg, Child Advocacy Project Manager agreed that Key Lime needed to be tart, and hit your taste buds in just that perfect way.
“My favorite pie is Raspberry Rhubarb Pie from Cranes Pie Shop in Saugutuk, MI.” We proceeded to have a conversation about the savory pies at Hoosier Mama Pie Shop. I made note of some suggestions that I will certainly have to try out in the future.
Sana Yousuf, Outreach Evaluation Specialist, deviated from both of the aforementioned groups. “I love Pumpkin Pie,” she said, and suggested that she loved to enjoy a good slice of pie from First Slice Cafe in Andersonville. “First Slice has an amazing Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Pie!”
“Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Pie?!?!?!?” Kate asked with raised hands and eyebrows.
SCHROA Associate Director, Emily Golbeck, went full on chocolate with her response. “Chocolate Silk Pie…from either Boston Market, or made by my mom. Preferably by my mom!”
Finally, there were a group of respondents whow didn’t need a special place to get their pie, as long as the flavor was on point. Cassandra Otoo and Linda Gordon agreed down the line that some good Apple Pie hit the spot. “Apple Crumb Pie from the grocery store.”
“…with Breyers Vanilla Bean Ice Cream” Linda added. After some discussion, they also both agreed that nothing beat a home baked apple pie. “A big slice of apple pie, with some vanilla ice cream, and then go straight to sleep!”
As it was Friday, and everyone was angling to finish up their tasks for the day and head out to enjoy the weekend, I caught Administrative Coordinator Angel Alcazar heading towards the door.
Does cheesecake count?” Angel asked, to which I responded “No!”
“Hmm…Sweet potato pie. It can be from the grocery store. I don’t really know anyone that makes a really good sweet potato pie.”
“I make a great sweet potato pie,” Linda interjected. I’ll teach you!
It’s amazing how food, sometimes the simple discussion of food, can bring people together.
Also in the holidays, it never escapes my mind that there are many people in the city who won’t have enough food to eat tonight, let alone have the pleasure of indulging over the holidays. Every year, my friends and I collectively try to take time to give back to our communities, and to the city as a whole.
For everyone, based on a variety of factors, that may look a little different from person to person. That may be donating money to your favorite charity or nonprofit organization (Giving Tuesday will be here before you know it), or giving the most precious commodity, time, to your organization of choice. Thrillist recently published a great list of How to Volunteeer in Chicago This Holiday Season.
I hope your next week is stress free, and light. I hope that the time you have to offer to others is equaled by the time you offer to yourself. Have a great one!