As sunset turned a snowy landscape electric blue on a January Sunday, Julie Donofrio preheated the oven in her bright South Philly kitchen. This particular day would tie the city’s record for cold at just 4°F, pipes bursting in protest across the city. Undeterred, Donofrio, an urban planner at Penn Praxis, prepared the batter for a batch of cinnamon sugar-puff muffins: pouring milk into a clean white bowl, measuring oil and gently breaking eggs. As the muffins baked, cinnamon perfumed her kitchen.
One could be forgiven the temptation to savor one fresh from the oven. Instead, Donofrio packed them up for delivery to the Nationalities Service Center (NSC), an immigrant and refugee service organization in Center City. There, English as a Second Language (ESL) students from around the globe would enjoy them while working on exercises designed to help them navigate life in their new city.