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Life's Voices: Volunteer Chef Spends Time and Money on People with Serious Illnesses

Ann-Elise Henzl

WUWM's holiday series Life's Voices begins this year with a profile of Steve Paradowski.

He's a professional chef who's on disability after a stroke.

Yet he still cooks a couple of times a week for Kathy's House. It's a place that provides lodging to people who live out of town who travel to Milwaukee area hospitals for outpatient treatment.

Paradowski watches the sale papers for deals. Then he shops for the ingredients for his Kathy's House meals, storing them in his apartment near Mitchell International Airport.

On the days that he cooks, Paradowski hauls the food by bus to Kathy's House, which is located near the Milwaukee County Zoo. He spends several hours preparing each meal, featuring the residents' favorites.

"Barb was here over a year. I knew what her favorite dishes were. I knew she liked roast turkey. I found out one time I served it too close after she had chemo and she wasn't able to enjoy it. I said Barb, tell me that. I will ask you, if your chemo's on Monday, will Thursday be good," Paradowski says.

Paradowski says he never thought about volunteering until after his stroke. Then he realized he could use his skills to provide what he calls "the happiness factor" to people who need a boost.

"You know, these people are in a really tough situation where food's like the last thing they're thinking about during the day. And then they come back here. And this may not be a grandiose set-up, but it's homemade. If that made their day, if one person says that changed my whole day, that made it worthwhile," Paradowski.

Paradowski spent Thanksgiving cooking the turkey dinner for Kathy's House residents.

You can listen to the rest of our Life's Voices series, featuring people who are contributing to the community, throughout the holiday season.

Ann-Elise Henzl became News Director in September 2017.