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RACHEL’S TABLE TALK: Bountiful Bowls – celebrating 25 years of Rachel’s Table

Please join us for Bountiful Bowls, the biennial fundraiser of Rachel’s Table that will take place on Thursday, June 8 at Baypath University, located at 588 Longmeadow St. in Longmeadow. The event, scheduled at 7 p.m., will feature a dessert reception and coffee bar. The price of admission is $25 and includes a hand-thrown pottery bowl. All tickets must be purchased by May 22 at the Rachel’s Table office, located at 1160 Dickinson St. in Springfield.

Always a featured event on our calendar, this year’s affair is extra special, as it marks the 25th year of fighting hunger and ending food waste in our community. In keeping with this effort, Rachel’s Table has chosen as honorees several Longmeadow residents who are outstanding in their commitment to achieve a hunger-free population.

The family of Anne and the late Jack Robinson: Betsy and Joel Bertuzzi and Ina and Richard Werman, have been active Rachel’s Table volunteers since the organization’s inception, and Andrea Goldstein, who sells gently-used items on behalf of Rachel’s Table on the Longmeadow Swap website, has been a R.T. volunteer: dispatcher and driver, for almost as long.

“I started with Rachel’s Table the year after it began,” says Anne, “And every time I do it I say, ‘It’s a mitzvah (good deed) accomplished.”

Daughter Betsy joined the board in 1999. She says: “After a short leave in 2002, I returned to the board where I dispatch and drive regularly. In Rachel’s Table Land, we don’t care whether our drivers are young or old, as long as they are sturdy and agile. We can find a comfortable route for anyone. My dad began driving for Rachel’s Table after recovering from a stroke, and performed this volunteer job until his death from another stroke several years later.”

Sister Ina says that her commitment to Rachel’s Table is three-fold.

“First of all, I can’t stand waste,” she says. “It makes me happy to see surplus food used in this way. Secondly, the appreciation of the recipients, which they often express as we drop off a food donation; and last, but not least, the gratification of knowing I have provided a meal to some who may otherwise not have eaten that day. The warmth of that feeling is indescribable!”

Andrea Goldstein is Rachel’s Table’s “swapper extraordinaire!” She began volunteering for Rachel’s Table by driving a route with a friend, delivering food to shelters and pantries. Soon her involvement grew, as she created and planned the inaugural “Foodraiser” at Big Y. More recently, while cleaning out some closets, Andrea came up with the idea of collaborating with Longmeadow Swap, where she sells items and donates the proceeds to Rachel’s Table.

“Whatever I can do,” she says. “Rachel’s Table does so much good, and so many of its programs require the purchase of food, rather than donations, that if I can help to fill its coffers with much needed cash, it’s my pleasure!”

An interesting innovation in this year’s Bountiful Bowls is the addition of a very special raffle. Raffle tickets will be sold in advance and drawn at the event. One does not need to be present to win. No fundraising will take place at the event. Featured prizes include: four Red Sox tickets in the first row of the State Street Pavilion, with food and indoor parking, as well as several vacation homes, golf at the new beautiful Great Horse Country Club, a shopping spree at several local venues, spa days and restaurant gift cards. All in all, there will be 13 prizes. Since only 130 tickets will be sold, purchasers will have a 1 in 10 chance of receiving the prize of their choice. On each ticket will be a numbered list of prizes, where buyers can list their choices in order of preference.

Rachel’s Table is a project of the Jewish Federation of Western Mass and 22News/ WWLP.com with Corporate Sponsor, PeoplesBank.

Volunteer dispatchers call local retailers, restaurants and caterers to learn what foods are available. They then call area shelters soup kitchens and pantries to determine their needs. They set up routes for the volunteer drivers who pick-up and deliver the food.

To learn more about us and how you can help, call director Debbie Rubenstein at 413-733-0084 or go to www.rachelstablespringfield.org.

– Submitted by Mickey Shrair, Rachel’s Table