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May 9 chef fundraiser to benefit North Country Family Health Center

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WATERTOWN — Following financial and operational struggles in recent years, the North Country Family Health Center is celebrating its rebirth by altering one of its signature fundraising events.

The 15th annual Celebrity Chefs event — scheduled for 6:30 p.m. May 9 at the Macsherry Parish Center at Trinity Episcopal Church, 227 Sherman St. — will feature four local chefs instead of recipes from community leaders and “local celebrities.”

“It’s sort of a new twist, and comes about because we had a strong support from chefs and the restaurant community,” said Elaine P. Garvey, the agency’s marketing director. “A lot of people have been particularly supportive of us this year.”

The health center at 238 Arsenal St. nearly closed last year. Samaritan Medical Center became the center’s temporary operator, and is overseeing the agency through its transition. Community members and businesses have come together to support the agency, Mrs. Garvey said.

The health center provides medical, dental and behavioral health services for people throughout Jefferson, Lewis, St. Lawrence and Franklin counties.

Featured on the cover of the event’s invitations — and what will be a 30-by-40-inch framed artwork for the silent auction — is a painting of calla lilies by local artist Patricia Giles. Mrs. Garvey said calla lilies symbolize rebirth and new beginnings.

“We’re feeling so positive, and we’ve made such great strides,” she said.

Brenda T. Cavallario, owner/executive chef of Cavallario’s Cucina, will make various cannolis as the dessert, and Rick DeCuffa, executive chef of Bonnie Castle Resort, Alexandria Bay, will share a goat cheese-stuffed mushrooms recipe. Michael L. Simpson, owner/executive chef of the Clipper Inn, Clayton, will offer his empanadas recipe, and Geoffrey M. Puccia, owner/executive chef of Pete’s Trattoria, Watertown, will make Mr. DeCuffa’s and Mr. Simpson’s appetizers/entrees. Mr. Puccia also will share his own recipes and cater the event, which also will have a meat carving station.

Instead of local celebrities serving the food, North Country Family Health Center staff will take on the role. Mrs. Garvey said agency staffers wanted to take a more active part in the event, and are proud to showcase the talent and how far the agency has come in the last year.

“We’re looking for many people to attend,” Mrs. Garvey said. “The Macsherry Parish Center is a whole new venue for us, and it’s only a block away from where we do business. That’s kind of a nice touch.”

Last year, the event raised about $20,000.

Items in the fundraiser’s silent auction this year include a six-course dinner of different regions, cooked by Ms. Cavallario, a weekend stay along the St. Lawrence River, cruise packages on private yachts, artwork and other items.

The health center served more than 28,000 children and families throughout the north country in 2013.

Support from dozens of event sponsors and those who attend the fundraiser will help more people receive medical, dental and behavioral health services.

Responses are requested by Monday by calling the agency at 782-9450. Tickets go for $75 per person.

For more information, visit www.childrens-clinic.org.

IF YOU want to go
• What: The 15th annual Celebrity Chefs event, to benefit the North Country Family Health Center.
• When: 6:30 p.m. May 9 at the Macsherry Parish Center, 227 Sherman St., Watertown.
• Why: To help fund medical, dental and behavioral health services for children and adults who are uninsured or under-insured.
• Cost: $75 per person. Tickets are available by calling the center at 782-9450 by Monday.
• For more information: Visit www.childrens-clinic.org
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