Chocolate Dinner for SMUM

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On 17 October 2009, Saint Timothy’s Episcopal
Church
(“St. Tim’s”) in Mountain View, California held a fund raising formal
dinner and auction called
“A Feast of All Things Chocolate”
to benefit
Santa Maria Urban Ministry
or SMUM. Peggy Aoki was the head chef,
assisted by

Jennifer Ezell
of St. Tim’s. The cooks clearly had fun putting together
the meal, especially the desserts. Both dark and white chocolate fountains were
offered for dipping strawberries and cake. My favorite was the ganache in
shortbread boats. St. Tim’s youth served the dinner. The event was hosted by the
Vestry (elected church leaders).
We won certificates for two custom made cakes in the silent auction.

My husband John Plocher
and I are on the SMUM Board of Directors and were asked to speak about SMUM
and why we support it.
Some of what we said:

Santa Maria Urban Ministry was founded as an outreach ministry of the
Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real
in 1983, providing emergency food to the residents of San Jose’s inner city.
SMUM is a partner agency of the
Second Harvest Food Bank
, and has been
designated to serve those in need within the eight Central San Jose zip codes.
SMUM provides basic services to meet short-term needs, such as food, clothing
and referral services, and by supporting long-term transformation through
education, counseling and seasonal programs.

John and I have been helping mentor a dozen or so grade and middle school kids
in the after school program for several years. During the school year, we
focus on homework and computer skills. Last summer, we went on field trips to

The Tech Museum of Innovation
, the
Monterey Bay Aquarium
, and the
San Francisco Zoo
.

Due to a shortage of regular volunteers, the after school program is only open on
Tuesdays and Thursdays, but we could be open every weekday if we had
more adults available. Sometimes we have too many high school students earning
service hour credits; what we need is adult volunteers. When we started, John’s and
my qualifications were minimal – a desire to help, a couple of hours a week and a willingness to learn Spanish from a first grader! Since then, the kids have
stolen our hearts. Our Spanish is improving slowly.

SMUM now has an operating budget of about $200,000/year, of which less
than 15% comes from the Episcopal Church.
More than 100 families a week from come to the facility for basic
foodstuffs to supplement what they are able to buy with food stamps.
Dozens of homeless clients get hygiene packs and clothing as well.

Several dozen children are part of the preschool and after school
homework/computer programs. Many Latino clients work seasonally in the
central
valley
as fieldworkers and move to San Jose on the off season to work in the
construction and service areas. Unfortunately, it is still somewhat
the norm in that community for young teens to drop out of school to babysit younger
siblings or to go out to work along with their fathers, brothers and
uncles in the fields. SMUM’s after school program has two goals:

    • Every child will feel safe and cherished.
    • Every child will be encouraged to complete high school.

A Feast of All Things Chocolate, Photos

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SMUM, Photos

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Images Copyright 2009 by Katy Dickinson and John Plocher

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