S. Hadley church plans benefit to help ministry in Dominican Republic
By Loris Szepelak
SOUTH HADLEY -- Amid the hustle and bustle of church life after school on a recent weekday afternoon, Donna Fobare, Lynn Baker and Darlene Goulet were concentrating on their plans for an upscale silent auction benefit on Oct. 24.
The women, all members of the mission committee of Second Baptist Church on Granby Road, are energized and hopeful that the donations to be auctioned off will raise close to $10,000 which will go a long way in supporting their ministry in the Dominican Republic.
Fobare, chairperson of the mission committee, noted during an interview with Reminder Publications that proceeds from the auction will be used to continue their support of the Haitian population that has migrated from Haiti to the Dominican Republic in the hope of finding work in the sugar cane fields.
"These people are among the poorest in the Western Hemisphere," Fobare said. "They suffer from widespread disease, malnutrition and starvation. They lack clean water, housing and food."
Fobare added that mission committee members, who earlier in the year visited the impoverished region, completed the construction of an elementary school, assisted medical teams, provided food for a week for more than 300 families, distributed hygiene kits and provided medicines, built water purifiers, provided 478 Spanish textbooks, and distributed school supplies including uniforms to the Batey schools.
Fobare explained that one of the challenges to education in this region is convincing parents of the value of an education for their children. A program titled "Sugar Cane Kids" works with parents of school-aged children to encourage their cooperation and support.
"However, the biggest gift we can give the Haitians is hope," she added.
Fobare noted that trips to LaRomana in the Dominican Republic are under the invitation of the Haitian Baptist Mission Church, and some work programs are directed by the Good Samaritan Mission Hospital -- considered the hub of all activities in the region.
"Many of us were exhausted but exhilarated by our experience and are anxious to go back," Fobare said. The mission committee's next scheduled trip is in the spring.
The Silent Auction/Dance Benefit to raise funds for the Haitians will be staged at Adelfia's Restaurant on U.S. Rt. 202. All proceeds will help the mission committee to provide medicine, food, clean water, clothing and educational opportunities to the Haitians living at the edge of the sugar cane fields in LaRomana. Tickets are $20 per person or $30 after Oct. 12.
As the women perused lists of donors and items soon to be on the auction block, they noted they will welcome donations right up to the event. Currently, auction items that will be up for bid include an 1800 spinning wheel, a handmade quilt featuring the Underground Railroad story, plane rides over the Connecticut River Valley, hot air balloon rides, themed baskets from local businesses and individuals, Red Sox tickets, a vacation weekend at Mt. Snow, and handcrafted wood clocks. In addition, original art work, a variety of gift certificates, four hours of DJ services, and dance lessons are also among the more than 100 items up for bid. Items can be purchased that evening with cash, check or PayPal.
The elegant affair, to be emceed by Andy Price, will feature the sounds of Spin Sound Productions of Granby. Expect the evening to start out with jazz, instrumental and swing tunes, followed by oldies from the 1950's to 1980's to close out the evening, according to Goulet, proprietor of Spin Sound Productions.
Doors open at 7 p.m. and while area residents peruse the auction tables and listen and dance to the music, hors d'oeuvres and food stations will be creatively placed around the hall. A sampling of the menu at press time includes jumbo shrimp cocktail, stuffed mushroom caps, scallops wrapped in bacon, an assortment of mini hot hors d'oeuvres and a vegetable, fruit, cheese and cracker table. Food stations include teriyaki chicken with vegetable egg rolls, Thai spring rolls and dipping sauces; pork tenderloin and beef strips served on tiny rolls with horseradish sauce; bite-size finger foods; several homemade quiche; cubed ham with glazed pineapple, and a hollowed out English cucumber with herb cheese dip.
Goulet promised a delightful dessert table to round out the evening's food offerings.
Head chef Louise Spagnoli will oversee the food preparations, assisted by chef Kevin Rondeau. National Honor Society students from Chicopee Comprehensive High School have been recruited as food servers for the evening.
Fobare noted another feature of the evening will be a photographer taking photos of attendees and each 5x7 framed photo will be available for $5 with all proceeds benefiting the church's mission work.
Auction organizers welcome area residents to join them for a fun evening which will ultimately raise money to help others less fortunate.
"We are very appreciative of everything that has been donated to us," Fobare said, as their planning session was coming to a close for the evening.
For tickets and more information, contact Goulet at 467-3321, Baker at 536-5358, Fobare at 536-4470, or Lori Thomas at Second Baptist Church, 536-0626.