Jen Hidindger-Kendrick Announces 2019 Expansion at Team Hidi 7

 

“I remember Ryan looking at me saying, ‘I want this for everyone.’ And you know what? I do, too. ”

 

Speech by Jen Hidinger-Kendrick
Photo by Erika Botfeld

Speech given at Team Hidi 7 on February 24, 2019 at The Stave Room at ASW Distillery.

I remember vividly six years ago the moment my late husband, Ryan Hidinger, and I were in discovery on how Giving Kitchen would operate and how we envisioned Giving Kitchen making an impact on as many people as possible.
 
And I remember it being a tough day for him, as he didn’t feel well after chemo. We were talking about how we could possibly do this - bring this idea into reality - and how it could feasibly work. The questions came pouring in: Would Giving Kitchen just help full-service restaurant workers? What about coffee house employees? Or quick service workers? Independents or chains?
 
The gravity of these decisions weighed on us. And honestly, it felt wrong. Who were WE to decide who would receive help and who wouldn’t? How could we say no?
 
I remember sitting across from Ryan, my hero, watching the agony seep out…
 
We knew that in order to make an impact, in order to provide a powerful AND sustainable movement, in order to provide for more, it meant we had to start with less. We had to start small and build a community, one step at a time. We knew this. Deep down, we knew this.
 
I remember Ryan looking at me saying, “I want this for everyone.” And you know what? I do, too. I want this for everyone.
 
Thank goodness Giving Kitchen has grown from the small community we served at first. Each year we’ve found ways to serve more people in need and to expand the circle that is our community. We’ve grown to serve the entire, massive Atlanta region, we’ve expanded to Athens, Columbus and Rome, and we have given assistance to workers along the Georgia coast harmed by hurricanes and fires.
 
What started with the desire to help just one, to change just one person’s life, has turned into one of the greatest accomplishments our community has ever seen. And I AM SO proud.
 
As of today, exactly 1,550 grants and $2.4 million dollars have been awarded since our inception.
 
And tonight, I am so excited to announce publicly - on our biggest stage - that our circle is growing substantially with Giving Kitchen now expanding to serve not only restaurant workers in crisis, but to also serve food service workers in the catering, concessions and food truck communities with our financial assistance. For an organization that has grown and expanded every year, this is the largest expansion in our history.
 
It’s an incredible honor and to stand up here before all of you every single year, it makes my heart incredibly happy. It’s also an incredible honor to stand here with six of our most catering institutions when we make this particular announcement. They have a very special gift they would like to make together. Please join me in welcoming our friends from A Divine Event, Affairs to Remember, Bold Catering & Design, Legendary Events and Proof of the Pudding who are presenting a check together for $33,000 to Giving Kitchen.
 
Thank you all so so much! Thank you for being here tonight. Thank you for continuing the legacy of my dear late husband Ryan. This is the legacy of each and every one of you – thank you!