story by Emily Hilley-Sierzchula, special to The City Wire
More than 15 restaurants on Dickson Street donated gourmet food and drinks Tuesday evening (Sept. 3) to help raise more than $67,000 for a Washington Regional Medical Foundation charity that helps homebound Arkansans who are more than 60 years old.
About 540 tickets were sold to the walking restaurant tour known as Savor the Flavor, now it its eleventh year, said Jaclyn Keeter, program manager for Faith in Action.
Restaurants donated food ranging from duck gumbo and crawfish fritters at Aqua Fire to cheesecake bites at Common Grounds. Hog Haus had its second floor closed for the event, and offered its version of shrimp 'n' grits. Participants paid $40 per ticket.
Sherri Simpkins, owner of the relatively new restaurant Aqua Fire on Dickson Street, said she had interacted with Faith in Action while working at the Fayetteville Senior Center.
"Faith in Action is near and dear to my heart, so I wanted to help out," Simpkins said.
One of the 66 volunteers Tuesday evening was Carole Howard. She has been a Faith in Action volunteer for six years, visiting an elderly lady in Bella Vista and helping with chores and errands.
"She is isolated with no car to drive," Howard said. "I find it rewarding; I enjoy the people I've met along the way."
Keeter summed up Faith in Action as "neighbors helping neighbors with non-medical needs, like transportation to appointments and the grocery store. Friendly visits are the largest service we provide because so many of our clients are socially isolated."
Keeter calls Savor the Flavor a "win-win: it gives the restaurants down on Dickson some exposure and it brings in a lot of different people who might not otherwise visit Dickson Street. And obviously it benefits our clients."
The event brings in "about fifty percent of our operating revenue," she said.
Three new restaurants participated this year, Keeter said. The Garden Room was the heart of the event and where the after-party took place.
Faith in Action states that it offers "free non-medical services to help promote their independence, dignity and quality of life." The program is available to homebound seniors in Benton and Washington counties.