Pasta supper illustrates ‘huge heart’ of P.A. residents

Matt
Matt Gardner
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When Wesley United Church members organized a pasta supper and silent auction to raise money for a local refugee family from Myanmar, they were hoping for a good turnout.

In the end, however, demand for tickets to “Wesley Goes Italian” was so insatiable that organizers ended up having to turn people away.

“We printed 150 (tickets) and we sold about 160,” church outreach committee member Ruth Griffiths marveled on Saturday evening at the sold-out event.

“The community is overwhelming in their support for this particular project,” she added. “It’s not just the church -- I think it’s this project. It really reaches the heartstrings of people knowing that we’re reuniting families here in Canada and allowing them to have a better life.”

Proceeds from the event went to help support the family, who are members of Myanmar’s Karen minority, during their first year in Canada.

Speaking for the family, mother Paw Thay Lah Say -- who attended Saturday’s supper along with her husband Hea Nay Say and their two sons Hser Kler Taw and K Jole Say -- said they were “very excited” to be there.

In a city renowned for its frequent fundraisers, standing out from the crowd is not always an easy task.

Griffiths, who also writes a regular column for the Daily Herald, noted the importance of providing a fun experience in service of a good cause.

“Somehow, people are willing to open their wallets for a social event like this, whereas maybe they wouldn’t just outright give you a donation,” she said.

“It’s a fun evening, too … You can hear people are having a wonderful time.”

For fellow outreach committee member Erin Yeo -- also a director at Global Neighbours Canada, which works with refugees along the border between Thailand and Myanmar -- the strong turnout spoke to a spirit that permeated Prince Albert.

“I think in our society … meaning Prince Albert, in our little corner of the world -- there seems to be a huge heart for this kind of thing,” Yeo said.

“There really does … because you do not see it everywhere.”

In our little corner of the world, there seems to be a huge heart for this kind of thing. Erin Yeo

As provided by Amy’s on Second Restaurant, the catering at Saturday’s dinner was a further example of that altruistic trend.

Griffiths praised the role of the restaurant’s owner and fellow congregation member Amy Hadley.

“Amy is doing this not for profit at all,” she noted.

Also helping facilitate the event was local band Java Time, who kept guests entertained during the dinner with an eclectic selection of music.

Prior to supper being served, grace was said in Italian, English and Karen. Organizers also introduced the family and discussed items for sale at the silent auction, including a sketch of two boys from the same refugee camp the family had once lived in.

Though they won’t know until the end of the evening how much closer they have come to their long-term fundraising goal of raising $20,000, Griffiths noted, “We’re hoping to get about 10 per cent of what we need tonight.”

While its main focus for the moment is helping the Karen family settle into Canada, Wesley’s outreach committee -- which has expanded for this specific purpose to about 20 members -- also supports work at the women’s shelter and food bank, relying entirely on community donations and fundraising events.

Asked when their next fundraiser might take place, Griffiths noted, “We haven’t looked ahead that far.”

See also:

'Wesley Goes Italian' to help refugee family

Former refugees help P.A. church sponsor family

Organizations: Prince Albert, Daily Herald, Global Neighbours Canada

Geographic location: Canada, Myanmar, P.A. Thailand

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