By mid-afternoon this past Wednesday there was an energy building in the air as the University Place Senior Center was being transformed almost magically into the setting for a community fundraising lasagna dinner dubbed Festa Italiana. Red and white checkered tablecloths alternating with white linen ones stretched down row after row of banquet tables adorned with colorful bouquets of fresh flowers. Seniors and their friends and families began arriving early.
Festa Italiana was sponsored, prepared, and served entirely by Bridgeport Place Retirement and Assisted Living – including all of the floral arrangements — and University Place Care Center. soundcareinc.com Sixty-six lasagna dinners were served, more than $700 was raised, and every cent will support continuing programs for seniors at the University Place Senior Community Center.
Jeanne Frew, Admissions Director, University Place Care Center made a presentation regarding the rehab, skilled nursing, and long-term care services available for seniors. She also extended an invitation to people to come in for a tour.
Jaynie Jones, Community Relations Coordinator, Bridgeport Place served as MC for the event and likewise welcomed people looking for an independent retirement or assisted living apartment community to tour Bridgeport Place and be treated to a complimentary lunch.
Door prize drawings included gift certificates for dinners, lunches, spa massage services, and gift baskets each with a theme, e.g. Gardening Basket, Tea Service, and an Italian Dinner basket. Plus, each one of the floral arrangements was given away to an individual whose door prize ticket was drawn.
Chris Hemmerling, former owner of The Chalet, donated Beanie Babies as a special gift to the UP Senior Center specifically for the event. Thus a Beanie Baby was plunked down in the middle of each place setting atop a flyer from the UP Senior Center announcing the “Junk in Your Trunk” rummage sale slated for June 19; what great conversation starters. Special thanks to Hemmerling for her generous heart.
Tom Brooks, an extraordinarily talented jazz bassist and guitarist played tenor guitar and was joined by his friend Rick Mehlenbacher on bass guitar for an exceptionally mellow performance. The music created an ambiance that allowed diners to carry on pleasing conversations without having to shout to be heard across the table. Brooks can be contacted through www.myspace.com/tradertomsislandmusic and by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 253-431-6694. Verla Elliott, vocalist, who sings with a 20-piece big band called “Touch of Class” just happened to be in the audience and was eventually coaxed and cajoled by her friends into joining Brooks and Mehlenbacher for a song rounding out the afternoon’s performances.
As the music lilted through the air, Sandy Nelson, Executive Director, Cindy Fugate, Dietary Services Manager, and Leslie Jo Thompson, Maintenance Director for Bridgeport Place hustled to serve the pasta piping hot. Peg Witham of Peg Witham Consulting also donned a red and white checkered apron and pitched in to help joining Jeanne Frew and the other health care providers to serve.