This Benevolent Fund dinner ‘rocked’

From contributed reports
More than 250 folks enjoyed an awesome benefit dinner at the Rappahannock Benevolent Fund “Celebrity Waiter” dinner at the Link on Jan. 29. Guests coming in found a medical team dispensing pomegranate martinis out of a hospital IV dispenser, guests dressed as vegetables at another table, and the local sheriff hosting another table with guests in ball and chain. All was done in great good humor.

The martinis were “sold” for donations. The gang attired as vegetables settled in for fun and frolic but were checked by a party security guard easily recognized as the bank president while the sheriff gallantly “freed” her captured guests for a fee.

Much frivolity ensued as guests sat at the theme-based tables such as the French table “Café le Bag” and the “think pink” table with guests helping to serve and sell their wonderful hors d’oeuvres. For those longing to be in Calabria, Italy, a lovely table with delicious appetizers of prosciutto and mushrooms as well a slideshow of a great Italian trip was just the “ticket.”

One waiter was impressively attired in an amazing American Revolutionary War uniform at his table while another bounced around in blond pigtails. Another table featured a Bavarian barmaid.

Working the crowd and revving up festivities was the Rev. Jenks Hobson in bright patchwork trousers. Rev. Hobson heads the Fund’s executive committee, which also includes the Rev. Jon Heddleston and the Rev. Phil Bailey. Also on the executive committee are Sharon Pyne and Doug Shiffman.

Entertainment included our own home-grown talent, Judy Reidinger, backed up by Mandalele’s Frances Miller playing along with Loraine Duisit and Wendi Sirat. Also on the entertainment bill were Kelsa Settle, Linda Heimstra, Monica Worth, Michael Perez, Ginette Perea, a terrific flamenco dancer, and music by Dontez, who had the audience up and dancing throughout the hall with his unique sound.

A gourmet three-course meal served by very talented “celebrity waiters” and their assistants headlined the event. Numerous volunteers worked for more than a month to buy, prepare, set up, serve, clean up, arrange, and decorate the Link for its Winter Wonderland event.

Sponsor signs decorated the walls and included the following local residents and businesses: The Artisanal Kitchen, Baldwin’s Grocery, Capitol Metro Physical Therapy, Cookies by Tam Settle, Greve Foundation, Jessamine Hill Farm, Rappahannock Real Estate Resources, Roy Wheeler Realty, Settle’s Cars and Trucks, Settle’s Grocery and Garage, Stoneledge Productions, Thomas and Talbot Real Estate, Union First Market Bank, Williams Tree Service and Wingate Appraisal.

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.

The event consists of guests who pay $50 to attend. Each table of guests comes up with innovative schemes to up the ante and boost the dinner’s grand tally. Sponsors also contribute additional money and the final amount is matched by a private donor to provide grant funds for selected recipients in need. There are no administrative costs for the Fund thanks to all the dedicated and hardworking individuals and sponsors.

The Fund aids certain Rappahannock County citizens with emergency needs when they are unable to otherwise 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.

Last year’s “Celebrity Waiters” dinner raised approximately $30,000. This year’s event has raised about $32,000 so far and will be matched. Anyone unable to attend who would like to donate to the Fund can send a check to: Trinity Church, P.O. Box 299, Washington, VA 22747

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