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San Francisco teen and GLIDE volunteer finds a creative way to support her community from home: cooking for a cause

With so much going on in the world right now, many of us wonder how we can step up to meet this moment, while keeping ourselves and our communities safe. One San Francisco teenager and longtime GLIDE volunteer creatively navigated these uncertain times and, in the process, raised much needed funds for GLIDE programs.

Ali Fishman, a San Francisco high school student, found herself tackling the art of cooking during the long days of shelter-in-place. She soon discovered her friends were doing the same thing. So Ali began requesting recipes from her fellow students. The responses delighted and surprised her—everything from “Tik Tok coffee” to “Mac and Cheese Balls.”

Cuisine can tell us a lot about a culture, and Ali found the collection of recipes to be a reflection of the times. “It was a funny depiction,” she admits, “of what is going in the world right now.”

Cooking for a Cause

As she passed the days at home with her family, Ali was acutely aware of those who did not have the privilege of staying safely at home, especially essential workers and people experiencing homelessness. “If I get to sit at home all day,” she reflected, “I might as well use it to do something good for the people who don’t get to be sitting at home.”

With this in mind, Ali decided to publish her newfound collection of recipes as a cookbook and to donate the proceeds to GLIDE.

Ali first visited GLIDE on a school field trip when she was in the fifth grade and has returned to volunteer through GLIDE’s volunteer program ever since. She still remembers what her tour guide told her class on that first trip: “GLIDE is a radically inclusive community. We serve anyone and everyone.” Ali says it’s an ethic that has informed her life ever since.

A recipe for action

For Ali, the best part of the fundraiser was engaging and collaborating with her broader community. Her social media followers sent in the recipes, her friend illustrated the book, her parents’ friend offered marketing support, and her school advisor mentored her along the way.

When the 70-page cookbook, entitled “A Book for When Postmates Is Not an Option,” was finished and posted online for sale, the response was another pleasant surprise. In a matter of weeks, she had sold well over 100 books and raised over $1,500 for GLIDE’s programs for individuals and families in dire need.

“Honestly, I was not expecting for people to love it so much,” says Ali. “When you are doing something in the moment, you’re thinking you are making something for a certain audience. But when friends share it with their networks, there is exponential reach.” 

Reflecting on her cookbook publication and fundraiser, Ali says, “the process has been fun and not a burden at all. We are all in the city together, we are all responsible for each other, and we are all supposed to be there for each other. I am making sure to be proactive.”

Cooking for a cause sound inspiring?

Ali’s tips for starting a fundraiser:

  1. Make it fun and exciting for you and the people that are going to be supporting you.  
  2. Make it community focused; get as many people involved as you can so that it’s a team effort, and there will be support for the final product.

While this is Ali’s first self-organized fundraiser, she sees now that when it comes to philanthropy, “young people need to take ownership.” She says this is especially true for teenagers.

“We are going to be adults soon enough, so the lesson that we are all supposed to be there for each other is vitally important.” 🧡

Ali seems to be at the forefront of a movement: Young people organizing fundraisers for GLIDE is trending! From holding virtual concerts to Instagram Live Yoga fundraisers, GLIDE’s youngest volunteers are stepping up and finding creative ways to contribute remotely during this physically distanced time. “A Book for When Postmates Is Not an Option” is available here.

While GLIDE hasn’t been able to host our in-person volunteer program during shelter-in-place, there are many ways to stay involved. If you have an idea for a fundraiser or donation drive of your own, please contact Lauren Bernstein, in GLIDE’s Fund Development department, at lbernstein@glide.org.

Banner image: Ali in the kitchen (left) and friend Natalie.