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Hunger Beat

52 Stories, 52 Weeks: Food and music

Phillip Best plays the piano during meals at Breaking Bread Ministries on the Near North Side.
Smooth, confident chords poured from a piano in the dining room at Breaking Bread Ministries on a recent Wednesday. At the keys was Phillip Best, who receives a hot meal from the Greater Chicago Food Depository member agency on the Near North Side once a week.

“I was in really bad shape when I first came here,” he said. “I had fallen on hard times and I was on the verge of being on the streets.”

Phillip, 59, began coming to Breaking Bread in August of 2012, after he lost his job at a hotel. He had worked in hospitality for five years.

“I know I can count on a good, healthy meal here every Wednesday. It helps,” he said.

Without a job, Phillip fell four months behind on his rent. But, staff at Breaking Bread helped connect him with a temporary work agency, and soon after, he was hired full-time by a legal support company.

“With the job, I was able to pay off my rent and my phone bill,” Phillip said. “I’m still working on a few things but I’m doing better.”

Phillip still comes to the meal on Wednesday nights, as he slowly gets back on his feet. He helps set tables and clean up when there aren’t enough volunteers. And when he’s not helping out, you can usually find him sitting at the piano, playing Stevie Wonder.

“I grew up with a piano in my house and have been playing since I was young. I love music. The piano, this place, it’s a good release for me,” he said.

Watch Fox Chicago's profile on Phillip.

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