The scent of fresh cocoa snowflake cookies, perfectly seasoned guacamole, and spiced maple syrup walnuts filled the air in the Leishman Culinary Kitchen at Kishwaukee Hospital late in November. Throughout the evening laughter broke out above the murmur of clinking cooking utensils and serrated knifes chopping away at fresh produce. And all the while, one couldn’t help but notice the framed picture of Victor Barresi on the counter, almost nodding his head in approval through his joyful smile.
Dr. Victor Barresi lived in DeKalb County for 45 years and was a well-known oral surgeon who gave selflessly of his time, talent, and treasure. He loved spending time with family and friends, music, traveling, cooking, hunting, golf and to continually learn. He simply loved life and the community in which he served. Victor passed away in April 2014 at the age of 77 at which time his wife Marla and family established the Victor F. Barresi Memorial Fund at the DeKalb County Community Foundation in his memory. By making grants through this donor advised fund, Marla is able to keep Victor’s spirit of philanthropy alive and well in the community that he loved and served.
Earlier this year, Marla partnered with KishHealth System and Hope Haven to turn a unique opportunity into a blessing for six young ladies, referred to as “The Squad”, from Hope Haven homeless shelter in DeKalb. Marla recommended to the Foundation that her fund payout be used in the creation of a four-part series cooking class. With funds in place, the classes were scheduled with dates set for summer/fall of 2016.
“When Marla approached me about a series of cooking classes in memory of her beloved husband Victor, I was thrilled,” said Lesly Wicks, Hope Haven Executive Director. “She knew about our childhood trauma therapy group for girls and understood the value of teaching them how to thoughtfully prepare a good meal, then join together with people they care about to talk, laugh and enjoy the gift of food. Just like Victor did.”
Led by KishHealth System Healthy Culinary Coordinator Rachel Koroscik, the classes taught the basics of kitchen safety, healthy alternatives to traditional cooking ingredients, and hands-on prep and cooking. Each class concluded with a beautiful arranged display of the prepared dishes, with enough forks and plates for all to sit down and partake in a meal together.
The four-part cooking class series:
At the conclusion of the November class the young ladies were presented with white cooking aprons as a keepsake. The girls wasted no time in decorating and personalizing their aprons through colorful ideas and phrases. To solidify the memories and the bond that was created through this experience, Marla, the instructors, and each of the girls, bounced from apron to apron adding a personal touch to each with a signature. “I’m so grateful to the DeKalb County Community Foundation that these girls were given the opportunity to make beautiful memories in the kitchen in memory of Victor,” said Marla. “I look forward to future grant opportunities in which we can touch someone’s life in a special way.”
Philanthropy, the love of humanity through the giving of time, talent, and treasure, is what the Community Foundation is all about. This one act of generosity has the potential to make a lasting impact in the lives of these young ladies today, tomorrow, and forever. Through a donor advised fund, donors are empowered to take a more hands-on, proactive approach to philanthropy. If you have a vision for philanthropy in DeKalb County, let us partner with you to make that vision a reality. To get started, please contact Executive Director Dan Templin at 815-748-5383 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Helping today…Shaping tomorrow.