St. John Maron Parish in Williamsville will hold a "Taste of Lebanon" to support an orphanage in the Middle East. This has become an annual event for a group of parishioners who formed SAVE ONE.
Serving a Vital Effort - Orphans Need Everyone has been holding the all you can eat dinners for the past 19 years, ever since hearing about the devastating conditions of Lebanese orphanages from Bishop Yohanna El-Hage, who had once served at their church.
"He saw a great need of an orphanage in his diocese," explained Regina Joseph, president of SAVE ONE. "He came back to visit occasionally. He was talking to one of the parishioners and he said, 'I would like to start something so that we can get money to give to the orphanage because they need different things.' We saw pictures. The kitchen was horrible. The bathrooms are horrible. Their living conditions were deplorable. Nobody should live like that. They barely got enough food, let alone computers or anything like that."
To help out, a group of parishioners decided to hold a dinner, "The Taste of Lebanon," with 100 percent of the proceeds, plus donations, going to an orphanage in Lebanon. Over the years, the group has supported six or seven orphanages, aiding one until it gets on its feet, then moving onto the next. Currently, supporting an orphanage in Northern Lebanon operated by the Maronite Sisters of the Holy Family Congregation.
"The first orphanage we did was for four or five years, until we got their kitchen, their bathroom, their living conditions up to snuff. Then we start with another orphanage," said Joseph.
Gen. Aziz Kairouz, brother of the pastor Father Elie G. Kairouz, oversees the project and helps the nuns who run the orphanages in Lebanon. "He's basically our eyes and ears there to make sure things are getting done, and they're done with a fair price," Joseph said.
People who stop by the Sept. 12 event can help themselves to a buffet-style mezze (appetizers) of spinach pies, olives, kibble; a main dish of lamb; chicken shawarma; rolled grape leaves; and hand made desserts consisting of baklava, ma'amoul and apricot cookies.
"The beauty of this is we get a lot of the same people every year. It's a time for them to renew friendships and talk. It's a very upbeat happy time. Everyone is there for the same reason, to help these children," said Joseph, who serves as the MC, who will speak, present videos, and before and after photos of the orphanages, "so they can see where their money is going."
"The Taste of Lebanon" will be held Friday, Oct. 12, beginning at 6 p.m. at St. John Maron Cedars Banquet Facility, 204 Wehrle Drive, Williamsville. Donation is $75
Contact Regina Joseph at 716-883-6194 for tickets.