ESSEX — A “Food and Folk” fundraiser will be held this coming Sunday, Jan. 25, at 5 p.m. at The First Congregational Church in Essex, UCC, 6 Methodist Hill in Essex Village. The event benefits Simply Smiles, a Connecticut-based non-profit dedicated to building bright futures for impoverished children in the United States and internationally
An authentic Mexican dinner, consisting of guacamole with chips, beef and vegetarian fajitas, tortillas, rice and beans, will be prepared by Chef Gabriela Chavez Hernandez, who grew up in Oaxaca, Mexico. At age 13, she was in charge of cooking meals for more than 70 children at the Casa Hogar Benito Juarez Children’s Home.
Chef Hernandez was the first recipient of a Simply Smiles college scholarship to study in the United States. She recently earned her degree in business at Norwalk Community College and is currently completing her bachelor’s degree at Sacred Heart University.
A concert by the 2013-2014 Connecticut State Troubadour, Kristen Graves, will follow the dinner. Graves is a folk/pop singer with a commanding voice, powerful lyrics and moving stories behind each song. She has been writing and performing her own music since 2000 and has toured nationally since 2002, sharing the stage with folk artists such as The Chapin Sisters, David Amram, Peter Yarrow and the late Pete Seeger.
Since 2012, she has spent her summers in La Plant, South Dakota teaching a guitar camp at the Cheyenne River Reservation. The sales from her 2011 Christmas CD funded the camp entirely.
Simply Smiles is a 501 (c) (3) charitable organization dedicated to providing bright futures for impoverished children both internationally and domestically. Founded in 2003 by Bryan Nurnberger of Naugatuck, CT, Simply Smiles has grown to become a widely respected organization with a large volunteer base. In Mexico, Simply Smiles focuses on food distribution campaigns, health initiatives, and education in a coffee-farming region of southern Oaxaca. On the Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota, the organization hosts summer camps, builds homes, and runs community events for the Lakota town of La Plant.
All of the proceeds from ticket sales for “Food and Folk” will benefit Simply Smiles. In addition, an anonymous donor will match ticket sales 1:1 to support the church’s mission trip, held under the auspices of Simply Smiles
Tickets for the “Food and Folk” concert are $25 for adults and $8 for children. To reserve tickets, call the church at 860-767-8097.