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West Hartford's Cookin' Returns For Its 10th Year

The Foundation for West Hartford Public Schools will celebrate a milestone during its annual fundraiser.

It is sure to be a night of hearty appetites and generous hearts when the Foundation for West Hartford Schools holds its much anticipated annual fundraiser, West Hartford’s Cookin’, on the evening of Saturday, March 24 in the auditorium.

Thirty-two local celebrity chefs will volunteer their time to create a smorgasbord of appetizers, entrees, and desserts for ticket holders to sample and savor. The gastronomic extravaganza, now in its 10th year, raises funds that the Foundation awards as grants to the town’s public school teachers to enhance and compliment the public school curriculum.

Kerry Bell, co-chair of the fundraiser and mother of three children in the West Hartford public school system, is pleased to help the Foundation as, “proceeds from the event directly benefit and enrich the education of our children.”

This year’s event promises to be extra special for all involved as the Foundation marks a significant milestone. Founded in 1997 as a non-profit organization by town residents Dougie Trumble and Heather Congdon, the Foundation’s mission is “to provide financial support for educational projects, programs, and initiatives that will enhance and promote excellence of the West Hartford schools.”

Reliant on private donations and volunteer members, the Foundation began small, awarding only a few grants in 1998. Every year, community support grew and donations increased until this year when the Foundation was pleased to announce that it had reached $1,000,000 in cumulative funds raised.

This achievement, one that the Foundation’s Administrative Director Lisa Bugos calls “very exciting,” will be honored at this year’s fundraiser with the theme “$1 Million Milestone Dollar” and the unveiling of a new logo for the organization.

Much of the Foundation’s success is due in part to West Hartford’s Cookin’ and the large crowds of loyal foodies and bon vivants that it has drawn for a decade. Last year’s event grossed $45,000 and drew 300 people. This year’s event promises to be just as successful.

The celebrity chefs will, as always, be stationed behind tables lining the periphery of the Town Hall auditorium. With ingredients donated by Whole Foods Market, many of the cooks will have spent the entire day whipping up their specialties at home and transporting them to Town Hall.

Ticket holders will be able to walk from station to station tasting the dishes and chatting with the chefs, including Board of Education members, town business leaders, West Hartford School Superintendent Karen List, Probate Judge Sydney Elkin, Director of Community Services Rob Rowlson, Hartford Courant columnist Tom Condon, and Town council members, including Mayor Scott Slifka.

Rogo Distributors and Wine Cellars 4 will be supplying the evening’s beverages. Fox CT newsman Jim Altman will be emcee and auctioneer for the live auction.

A silent auction will also be held with an array of services and products donated by local businesses and school PTOs. For a $20 donation, party-goers will receive an apron with the Foundation’s new logo and a chance to win a special prize.

The evening's sponsors are Aetna, , , Gengras Motor Cars, , Wine Cellars 4 and . 

For the 2011-2012 school year, the Foundation awarded 58 grants totaling close to $77,000 in supplemental funds for projects and residencies to be implemented during the school year. In addition, a $500 grant was awarded to each of the three West Hartford finalists.

The Foundation also awarded a $17,000 Special Initiative Grant to for a large-scale innovative project to develop and build a on school grounds.

Bell can’t wait for the evening that she and co-chair Karen Wizevich have been planning for months. “I’m looking forward to an enjoyable night and delicious food! The Foundation truly contributes to the attributes that make West Hartford such a special place to live.”

The event will be held Saturday, March 24 from 6:30 – 9 p.m. in the Town Hall Auditorium. Tickets are priced at $100 for Benefactor; $50 for Patron; $60 at the door. For more information phone the Foundation at 860- 561-8755 or go to their website: www.fwhps.org.

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