The first-ever "Burgers, Brews and Blues" event hosted by the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities was a sold-out success, drawing a crowd of 150 people to help raise money for the Williamsville Franciscan community Tuesday evening.
"(We like) bringing people into our home and sharing the evening with them," said Sister Patricia Burkard, OSF, a former general minister for the congregation and current coordinator of residences for retired priests for the Diocese of Buffalo. "It keeps us in touch with a lot of our friends who are willing to help and support the community."
The event began with a social hour that allowed attendees to look over gift baskets for the evening's auction while enjoying cold beers, colorfully displayed with the famous "Zubaz" pattern in Buffalo Bills colors. Dinner followed the social hour, and then the evening concluded with a concert by Buffalo Music Hall of Fame jazz and blues vocalist Janice Mitchell.
The "Burgers, Brews and Blues" is the first time the religious community tried such a theme, but the community holds other fundraisers throughout the year, such as a wine and food tasting night in May, and a dinner in October.
"Each year, the Sisters of St. Francis, with the help of our development council, provides some kind of fundraising event that will benefit the community," Sister Patricia said. "We're inviting new people we've never met before to come to the event. All of the proceeds for this event will come back to (our) community for taking care of our elderly sisters and providing financial support for our sisters in their ministries."
While the event was initially planned for outdoors, a rare summer day filled with rain showers brought everybody inside. However, attendees were still able to enjoy barbeque and hamburgers as part of their dinner.
"Much of the connection of the people who come are people we've met along the way, when we were in teaching or in parish work," Sister Patricia said. "It's sort of like a reunion of friends. What we do hear is that people need some kind of support for something they're going through, or an illness in the family. So we manage to say a few consoling words to them and add them to our prayer list."
Dopkins & Company LLP, Martin Davison Public Relations, Wardynski Meats and Caputi Wine and Liquor sponsored the event.