Budgetary problems jeopardize program

Three Seasons fundraiser raises money, emotions


Christian Urrutia / The Advocate

San Pablo resident Jose Castellanos and daugther Malena are served a breakfast omelet during the Chef and Child event co-hosted by the early childhood education and culinary departments in the Three Seasons Restaurant on Saturday.

By Robert Clinton, Sports Editor

On the heels of the successful Food and Wine Event, the culinary arts department teamed up with the Early Learning Center for the Chef and Child fundraiser held at the Three Seasons Restaurant Saturday aimed at attaining fiscal independence for the ELC.

Unlike most events focused on raising funds to enhance the scope of a department or replace old equipment, this was to help the ELC keep its ability to make payroll.

“The Early Learning Center is a self-sufficient program based on collected fees but additional funding is needed to sustain the program,” early education department Chairperson Intisar Shareef said. “My gratitude goes out to Chef Nader Sharkes for helping us generate funds for the next fiscal year.”

Contrary to the photo on the flier, which featured kids sitting in the kitchen with the Chef Sharkes, children were nestled away at the learning center and not assisting culinary students in food preparation.

Instead parents and potential donors were greeted with a champagne brunch, live music and an auction. After the artwork was doled out and mimosas were finished, returning children were treated to a puppet show.

“The kids are in the classroom because it would be too much of a hazard to have them in the kitchen,” Sharkes said.

Visitors arrived well before the 11 a.m. start time. The area outside of the Three Seasons Restaurant was adorned with artwork by students from the ELC.

Also, available was jewelry donated by local business owner Khaleedah Muhammed from Grandma’s Hands.

On the display tables artwork was presented along with a paper to place a bid. All bids were public and guests kept a roaming eye, scanning tables to see if their bid had been outdone.

Before the auction ended, parents rushed to outbid others for their children’s work. Some families came away with their child’s treasure, others were outbid.

“Our daughter is 5 and has been going here since she was 3,” Roezell Carter said while proudly displaying her daughter’s framed artwork. “I love the way they framed everything. Some of this work belongs in a gallery.”

The theme of imbibing was fully embraced by the patrons and a festive vibe filled the air along with live music and the aroma of freshly grilled chicken.

The buffet style line snaked through the kitchen area where attendees filled their plates with breads, salad and either seafood or chicken.

All of those in attendance seemed to enjoy taking in the whole scene.

Event attendee Glenda Roberts said, “It’s a great time and it’s for a good cause. The food is great, the fellowship is excellent and the live music. It doesn’t get any better than that.”

Michelle Naido, director of the ELC said, “A lot of people say they didn’t know that we provided this service.

“It’s a great way to advertise for the center, but it will take more work,” she said.

This is the first time the ELC and the culinary arts department have come together for the Chef and Child event.

At the conclusion of the event a tally had not yet been recorded to put a monetary value on the success of the festivities.

Tickets were $35 and a rough tally far before the end of the auction was upward of $500.