It started with kitchen supply donations before morphing into educational trips to the grocery store, cooking classes and a book of recipes featured in a fundraiser at Chef Tony’s on Wednesday night.
But Sandy Petrone said simply being there has the biggest effect on the 20 teens in the “Bistro Boyz” program at the National Center for Children and Families.
“We’re teaching them to cook, which is part of it as is the budgeting, as is the grocery shopping,” said Petrone, a member of the Junior Women’s Club of Chevy Chase. “More important than that is the fact that these old ladies keep showing up every week and we’re just really there to have fun.”
For more than a year, 18 active volunteers from the Women’s Club have been taking teens from NCCF’s Greentree Adolescent Program grocery shopping on Mondays. On Tuesdays, they go to the Greentree Road campus to cook and eat with the kids, many who come from difficult family backgrounds.
“Last night I got a report that one of the boys said, ‘This is sort of like eating together with a family,'” Petrone said. “A lot of us have grown young men and we cooked with them. Eating and cooking is just really safe and its a way to spend time together. These young men are in our community. We can add so much to the wonderful job NCCF is doing taking care of them.”
The fundraiser on Wednesday focused on the “Pie in the Sky” cookbook, a collection of wide ranging recipes from Bethesda and Chevy Chase residents and chefs.
Proceeds from the book sales will go to fund the Bistro Boyz program. Chef Tony Marciante and artist Jennifer Rutherford, who did the book’s cover painting, were on hand to sign copies.
Chef Tony’s served samples of some of the dishes in the book, a blue binder of almost 200 pages of recipes.
For more information on the book or the Bistro Boyz program, visit the Junior Women’s Club’s website.