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Cuisine for a Cause wows

Feb. 1 fundraiser for Rebuilding Together Fox Valley a resounding first-year success

February 14, 2013

For a first-year event, Rebuilding Together Fox Valley’s ‘Cuisine for a Cause’ fundraiser has set a high bar for the future.

Community First was the title sponsor for the Feb. 1 event that paired eight local chefs with nine local celebrities in a four-course food competition. It drew a sold out crowd of more than 300 to the Grand Meridian and was a resounding success, raising over $65,000 after expenses.

“It was really special,” said Community First’s own celebrity chef, Cathie Tierney, who won the dessert competition with her partner, chef Camille Malone of Café bon appetit. “Like any first-time event we learned a lot but I was very impressed. It came off almost without a hitch and probably the neatest part of it for me was the exposure it brought to Rebuilding Together.”

Rebuilding Together Fox Valley is a nonprofit organization that unites volunteer individuals and groups interested in improving the lives of others by completing housing repairs to help revitalize neighborhoods throughout the greater Fox Cities area.

“It was an amazing first-year event,” said Joanie Johnson, CFCU community relations manager, who is on the Rebuilding Together Fox Valley board of directors and the Cuisine for a Cause committee. “We never guessed we would raise that much money. Our goal was $15,000.”

Kate Dugan, Rebuilding Together executive director, praised the assistance from Tierney, Johnson, CFCU’s marketing team and volunteers that helped organize, plan and carry out the event. “It just wouldn’t have happened without all the involvement of everybody at Community First,” she said. “I can’t say enough; it was just awesome what the people of Community First did.”

The funding will help with operational costs but mostly to help Rebuilding Together tackle its waiting list of 45 low-income homeowners with projects estimated to cost $3,000 or more to help them stay in their homes. Those projects involve a variety of needs, including: new roofs, foundation repairs, plumbing or electrical upgrades, new siding and insulation, new windows, furnace repairs or replacements, relocation of laundry facilities from the basement to the first floor and installation of ramps to aid accessibility for aging or disabled residents.

“These are the hardest for us to do because it depletes resources so quickly,” Dugan said. Rebuilding Together Fox Valley’s handy volunteers also perform smaller jobs such as grab bar or handrail installation for people getting out of the hospital. Other volunteers include skilled trades people that provide carpentry, plumbing and electrical assistance.
Recipients own their own homes and are either elderly or disabled or have a permanent member of household that are elderly or disabled, Dugan said.

“We have had homeowners because of health or accident, all of a sudden their lives change and their home is no longer accessible or friendly to them.”

“These are all people who have been productive citizens their whole lives,” Dugan said. “These are folks who are used to taking care of themselves and something happened that they can’t.

“We just came off of a pretty rough year so this is like a miracle,” Dugan said. “It has lifted our spirits as well as our financial resources. It’s just been really wonderful for the organization to have such a successful event through the help of so many wonderful people.”