All photos: Matt Grazier
Hundreds of people ate spaghetti this past Friday night at the 2016 Spaghetti Dinner at the Fairmount Copley Plaza.
It was a fundraiser event hosted by the Women’s Lunch Place, a nonprofit that give women refuge from the streets by providing shelter and food, among many other things.
“Guests of WLP are strong and resilient women who have not failed, but have been failed by others,” said Elizabeth Keeley in a prepared statement. “We lift women from despair, restoring their dignity and feeling of self-worth, and support their efforts to make positive choices.”
The 2016 Spaghetti Dinner is Women’s Lunch Place’s fundraiser event that started 30 years ago and has grown to become a big Back Bay charity event. In 2015 the nonprofit raised more than $500,000 to support its Meals and Advocacy programs. The special night highlighted the healing power of the arts with honored guest Estrellita Karsh and celebrated the Women’s Lunch Place program called Creative Expressions.
This year Women’s Lunch Place served 89,389 meals. The organization helped 560 guest, helped 28 women get permanent housing, and helped 60 women saved their homes. There has been more than 100 volunteer groups who help the organization operate the kitchen, administrative duties, and programs like Creative Expressions, an art program that consists of classes geared toward healing through art. Among many classes there are painting, jewelry making, yoga, knitting, dancing, and writing.
Anne Bromer, chair,of the 2016 Spaghetti Dinner, has been involved with the Women’s Lunch Place for 25 years. She was on the board 15 years ago, and has rejoined the board again one year ago. She stresses thats art in its many forms delivers healing powers. “We’re trying to do pairings with well-known artists and artists from the Women’s Lunch Place,” she said describing the silent auction items at the fundraiser event on Friday night.
There were 14 silent auction items with a price worth anywhere from $300 to $3,000, of paintings done by well-known artists. Each painting is paired with a jewelry gem that is made by an artist from the Women’s Lunch Place. There were 10 live auction art items with prices valued at anywhere from $500 to $3,000. This is all in addition to grand prize raffles, which prizes included a trip to Mexico.
Estrellita Karsh was the honorable guest for her background is in art and medicine. She’s had 10-year long career as an editor of a clinic physician newspaper providing medical advice. With her connection to artist Nan Freeman, she brings freeman’s artistry to the Women’s Lunch Place dining area, where there paintings of flowers in vases will hang on the wall.
Sherry Hughes is among those who will see the painting on a daily bases. She is the chef and kitchen manager at the Women’s Lunch Place. “It’s the best job ever,” she said. “I get to make great food with an amazing staff, and I help people everyday.”
Rather than just working at any job where she can get paid for putting food on a plate, she said she is better fulfilled cooking at the Women’s Lunch Place. “There is a spiritual empower to it,” she said. Past meals she’s made were in light of the fall season: turkey pumpkin chili with a side of cornbread and salad. Next on the menu herb rubbed pork roast and spaghetti squash, with the herbs from the Women’s Lunch Place herb garden, which consist of chives, oregano, rosemary, and thyme.
The organization is located right on the corner of Newbury Street and Berkeley Street. It’s where Hughes commutes an hour each way to cook healthy meals and feed women who are worth her while.
At the spaghetti dinner, Executive Director Keeley shares her gratitude with the room of people. “It brings me great joy to be a part of this creative effort, and I’m just glad there will be no more empty walls,” she said to the crowd that night.