With the clear blue sky and the calm Caribbean Sea as a background, the Home and School Association (HASA) of the St. Thomas/St. John Seventh-day Adventist School hosted its fourth annual fundraiser and community outreach event for the school year at the Fort Christian Parking Lot on St. Thomas. This Meeting of the Chefs 2019 event serves a dual purpose: To raise funds for HASA and to introduce the community to healthy, delicious and nutritious vegetarian meals that are easy to prepare.
Under canopies set up in the parking lot, students, staff, teachers, parents, and former students (who are now parents of current students), served hot meals to church members and community friends. The steady flow of diners included persons with pre-purchased tickets; those who saw the advertisements on social media; and, those who responded to signs in the parking lot.
Sonia Sterling, President of HASA, took time from serving meals to give some insight into this outreach program: “This is the fourth year, and the event is bigger and better each year. Seven hundred (700) tickets were printed and they expect to serve about 600 plates. The funds raised, from this event, provide scholarships to the graduating seniors of the school. To be eligible for the scholarship, the students must commit to participating in the event.” Senior class members Gabriela Carvajal, Vernesha Hodge, Alia Laws, Leonard Spencer and Andre Benjamin were in charge of dessert and drinks; they greeted each customer with bright smiles – all under the watchful eye of Sister Sarah White, the most senior volunteer assisting at the event. The funds also go toward the annual Teacher Appreciation Dinner and a project to benefit the school. For 2019, the project is “Adopt a Class,” which will furnish one of the classrooms that was destroyed by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in September, 2017. According to Sterling, the event has always been financially successful and, after expenses of the event are deducted, HASA is usually able to fund the scholarships and projects – thanks to the generous donations that are given to the association each year.
As the patrons dined on a meal, which included pecan loaf, vegetarian pepper steak, rice and peas, lo mein, quinoa, and steamed vegetables, they sat under one of the canopies and met the chefs. Chef Loistine Edwards demonstrated a broccoli salad and a bulger wheat dish. Chef Richard Ryan prepared citrus and herb infused oils which can be used as a delicious salad dressing. Chef Laurel Payne, assisted by Chef K. Robles, prepared healthy oatmeal burgers. Chef Claudette Cross, along with her husband, Pastor Glendon Cross, prepared milk from almond and cashew. After each demonstration, generous samples were given to all who desired a taste.
Attendees at the event were upbeat and extended “Happy New Year” greetings to each other. Church members from the six Adventist congregations greeted each other enthusiastically, as some had not seen others for a while. During the event, some attendees sat under the canopies and chatted or listened and sang along with the music that was provided on the public address system. We caught up with Elder Carlos Robles, former Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture, who said he was at the event, “to support his school.”
Meeting of the Chefs 2019 was very successful and the Home and School Association must be commended for staging this uniquely enjoyable fundraiser and community outreach event.