More than 125 folks enjoyed an evening of good food and fun at the Washington fire hall for the benefit of the Benevolent Fund Saturday night. With tasteful decoration in bistro style and tables full of plates of tasty nibbles and drinks, the hall had become the place for enjoying oneself while doing good for the community. The event grossed almost $20,000 – a total that will be matched by an anonymous donor.
When a fire at the Sperryville School House made the Fund’s annual “Celebrity Waiter” dinner unfeasible, the organization’s fundraising committee consulted last year’s waiters, who encouraged the committee to hold a smaller event this year. Many also agreed to assist with the fundraising activities at the event this year as well as next year when, once again, a celebrity waiter dinner might be held. And help they did. Many of the waiters made sure that their previous guests once again filled the room. Three of the top producing waiters of past years, Debbie Donehey, Mike Leake and Bubby Settle brought in more than $5,000 with creative fundraising this year.
Rev. Jenks Hobson, in a bright pink jacket, worked the crowd and revved up festivities by soliciting contributions in amounts equaling the amounts the Fund pays for the rent, electric bill or other needs of the Fund’s clients. Rev. Hobson heads the Fund’s executive committee, which also includes Rev. Jon Heddleston of Reynolds Memorial Baptist and Rev. Phil Bailey of Washington Baptist. Also on the committee are Sharon Pyne and Doug Shiffman.
Working behind the scenes were too many to name them all. The local restaurants – Blue Rock Inn, Country Cafe, Flint Hill Public House, Griffin Tavern and Middleton Inn – provided plates of appetizers. Individuals also donated plates of foods and the committee also bought food. Entertainment included two well-loved Rappahannock bands, Gold Top County Ramblers, who provided mellow sounds for the early part of the evening, and Dontez Inferno, who had the audience up and dancing until closing.
The event was staffed by the fundraising committee, the Commissioner of Revenue’s office volunteers and many friends, who parked cars, decorated, filled plates and cleaned up. For some, who could not afford the high price of attending, this was an opportunity to also give. Others contributed both help and money. The Benevolent Fund executive committee and fundraising committee will be forever indebted to them. They represent the county at its finest and they represented a very eclectic cross-section of the County – both born-heres and come-laters.
The Benevolent Fund started in 2008 with an anonymous gift to help various Rappahannock citizens in dire need. By 2009, with the economic situation making its impact severely felt here in the county, it was suggested that a mechanism be found to raise additional funds, and thus the “Celebrity Waiters” dinner and entertainment event was born.
This year, guests paid $50 to attend, and once there, many donated much more by purchasing raffle tickets or other items. The final amount will be matched by a private donor. There are no administrative costs for the Fund thanks to all the dedicated and hardworking individuals and groups that support it.
The Fund aids certain Rappahannock County citizens with emergency needs when they are unable otherwise to qualify for help with food, medicine, heating, emergency repairs and the like. Informative workshops on issues such as energy savings, job search, financial planning and nutrition have also been held.
If you were not able to attend the wonderful event this year but wish to add your donation, please send a check made payable to The Benevolent Fund to: Trinity Church, PO Box 299, Washington, VA 22747.