On Tuesday, November 26, members of the Walnut Hill College Student Leadership Development Institute visited the Clyde F. Barker Penn Transplant House to prepare a pre-Thanksgiving dinner for residents of the transplant house and their families. This was the 7th meal in a partnership between the College and the Transplant House, all in an effort to engage WHC students with members and organizations of the University City community in a meaningful way.
The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote about this year’s Thanksgiving dinner, and we are happy to share their article, written by Mari A. Schaefer, both here and below:
Students at the Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College prepared a full Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings for patients and families who were staying at the Clyde F. Barker Penn Transplant House, where guests wait for or recover from an organ transplant.
The facility celebrated the holiday in the past with either a potluck or a catered meal, said Kirsten King, director of the 13-room guesthouse, located on 3940 Spruce St. In addition to doing all the cooking this year, the students sat with the guests to help celebrate, she said.
“They have been really enthusiastic collaborators,” said King. Residents of the Transplant House have been known to stay for as long as eight months during recovery, she said. So the homemade meal, which was funded with grants from Penn Medicine and the Transplant Institute, means a lot to them.
Added King, “We even asked them to make extra,” so that leftovers could be served on another night.
The Student Leadership Development Institute began a new partnership with the Clyde F. Barker Penn Transplant House on Spruce and 38th Streets about 14 months ago. If you are unfamiliar with the Clyde F. Barker Penn Transplant house, the house is not a medical facility, but rather a small guest house designed to meet the unique needs of transplant patients and their families during a trying time in which they wait for a transplant to be approved.
Initially, Dr. Julia G. Lavenberg, who is a Research Analyst for the Penn Medicine Center for Evidence-Based Practice, reached out to me, along with the Manager of the Transplant House, Kirsten King, with an opportunity of a potential long-term partnership involving what we do best: providing exceptional hospitality and food. The overall idea was for Walnut Hill College and, more specifically, the Student Leaders to plan, prep, and provide delicious meals for the patients, families, and friends residing at the Transplant House on a monthly basis. Needless to say, this was a fantastic opportunity for the college to partner with a nearby university in the community and, specifically, for our Student Leaders and the Student Leadership Development Institute to be at the center of the partnership…and we said yes.
Since the partnership began, these Student Leaders have planned, prepped, and provided seven different meals to the families and patients of the Clyde F. Barker Penn Transplant House, each meal with its own menu and its own theme. From garlic knots to focaccia, from Italian wedding soup to baked potato soup, and from snickerdoodles to berry pie, the patients, families, and friends of the Transplant House were treated to home-cooked meals and the incredible aromas that came with them.
Needless to say, I am extremely proud of this partnership and of our Student Leaders for delivering such an amazing experience to the guests of the Clyde F. Barker Penn Transplant House, and we are beyond excited in continuing this partnership for years to come!
Written by Dr. Joshua Seery, Director of the Walnut Hill College Student Leadership Development Institute