A tasty Portal tradition supports local emergency services.
While most people appreciate having any soup choice on the menu, they'll have to look far and wide for a selection that matches the "Soup Kitchen" fundraiser held annually in Portal, Ariz., near Rodeo. There you'll find a three-day soup extravaganza that features more than 50 tasty recipes — everything from the exotic, "African-chicken-peanut" or "Zuppa Tuscana," to a health-conscious "Vegetarian Soyrizo Potato" or the less-elegant, "smashed potato cheese."
Soup Kitchen volunteers (left to right): Karen Fasimpur, Donna Meecham, Howard Tophoff, Gerry Hernbrode, Vicki Beno, Delane Blondeau, Alice Newton and Bill Wilbur. (Photos by Dawn Newman-Aerts)
The Soup Kitchen is the annual Portal Rescue fundraiser. The 17th Annual Soup Kitchen, Feb. 11-13, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., will once again be hosted by dozens of enthusiastic volunteers and cooks. Last year they served an estimated 395 lunchgoers.
The original idea for a "soup kitchen"-type fundraiser began with a handful of close friends and neighbors, says last year's coordinator, JoAnn Julian. "In those early years, it was led by Barbara Miller, who had a very simple but interesting concept" — to bring together a few cooks, with crock-pot-inspired dishes, casseroles and soups. Julian credits much of the Soup Kitchen's early success to Miller, who was committed to the idea from the very beginning.
Today, the social event has earned some local distinction as a much-needed resource for local rescue and emergency operations. "You might say, it's not just about chicken soup anymore," says Julian. In 2012, the event raised some $6,843 in proceeds from a combination of lunch-ticket sales, cookbooks and prize raffle tickets. She explains that proceeds are used to pay for Portal Rescue needs, ranging from insurance costs, vehicle maintenance and fuel to volunteer-based training needs.
The Portal community estimates it may cost as much as $50,000 a year to run the rescue service, which responds to local fire and medical emergencies. So over the past few months, kitchen volunteers have been busy pulling out their utensils and recipe cards for what has become a celebration of home cooking with a dash of good will.
"Basically, the soup kitchen has raised funds through kitchen sales, tax-deductible donations as well as through raffle tickets," explains the 2013 event coordinator, Chris Wilbur.
Lead kitchen-volunteer Vicki Beno points out that the event has also become a popular get-together for folks in the San Simon Valley and beyond. Lunch guests have come from as far away as South Korea.
Julian says, "This has been a great way to bring the Portal and Rodeo communities together — that is not only a lot of fun, but also raises a lot of dollars."
This year's Honorary Mayor and raffle-coordinator, Gerry Hernbrode, points out that the fundraiser is also about "real world" delivery of top-notch medical services. "We have quite a few retired people here, and others, who have come to count on our rescue resources here. So, it's really become an event with life and death concerns."
Wilbur says that soups and crock-pot dishes this year will feature everything from the time-honored, "traditional beef stews," to more exotic recipes from around the world. "We had roughly 20 recipes to offer our guests on each day of the three-day event," adds past coordinator JoAnn Julian. "And our cooks always get rave reviews."
Beno says, "We really like to mix it up a bit with our recipes. So you're going to find new inspirations each year."
Coordinators encourage people to be creative with their recipes. Says Julian, "I think all of the food items (which also include homemade desserts and bread choices) live up to the expectations of people who truly appreciate the art of good cooking and new recipes."
In addition to the soup and crockpot menu, the Soup Kitchen fundraiser includes a community-wide raffle, which will award roughly 18 prizes for winners this year. Prize contributions include donated art by Marge Fagan; hand-carved wood art by Bill Reinbold; glass art by Greg Wayman; original photography donated by Fred and Pat Espenak; as well as hand-crafted quilts by Carolyn Dearing and Stevie Wayman; and $100 in lottery tickets.
One of the new additions this February will be a special collection of "tried and true" crock-pot dishes, soups and other recipes compiled by cookbook volunteer Kate Fackelman. The booklet of past and recent dishes will be offered at $5 per copy during the three-day event.
"We really count on some pretty wonderful volunteers to come together each year, to work hard, to share their culinary talents as well as their enthusiasm," says Julian, with a smile. "And it‘s not just about chicken soup, anymore!"
The Soup Kitchen fundraiser for Portal Rescue will feature over 50 soup and crockpot recipes over three days, Mon., Feb. 11th, Tues., Feb., 12th, and Wed., Feb. 13th between 11:30 and 1:30 p.m.
Dawn Newman-Aerts is a former Minnesota newspaper journalist who lives in Rodeo.
There's a new local organization looking out for the welfare of animals, and it's co-sponsoring an event this month. The new Animal Friends of New Mexico and the High Desert Humane Society will be holding an Adoption Day on Saturday, Feb. 2, from 10 a.m.-noon at the Tractor Supply Co. at 2707 Hwy. 180 E. in Silver City. It's a chance to see some of the adorable cats and dogs who are eager to meet you. Dogs from the Hurley Animal Shelter will also be there.
Animal Friends of New Mexico was founded in November when a small group of animal advocates joined together to explore how to help the plight of our animal friends, particularly here in Southwest New Mexico. According to the group's website, "We are dismayed by pet overpopulation and the resultant high rate of euthanasia of companion animals and desire to take responsibility to help these creatures who cannot speak for themselves. We are a diverse and ever-evolving group of people who share a deep conviction that animals are sentient beings who are dependent upon human beings for their welfare and protection. We believe that animals, as well as humans, deserve to live life with dignity and respect, and hopefully with love. We each contribute by volunteering our energy and resources as we are able, following our personal passions and shared desire to improve the quality of life of our animal friends. We promote a climate of openness and transparency and invite anyone who shares our commitment to join with us in this undertaking.
"The mission of Animal Friends of New Mexico is to befriend animals and their caretakers through promoting appropriate adoptions, fostering, spay and neutering, education, outreach and fundraising with the goal of alleviating suffering and lessening the euthanasia rate of companion animals."
The group's next meeting will be Monday, March 11, at 3:30 p.m. in the Silver City Food Coop Meeting Room at 520 N. Bullard St. For information, see www.animalfriendsnm.org.
Meanwhile, the High Desert Humane Society will be celebrating its 40th anniversary of helping animals in Grant County this year. Major events are planned for this fall, and the group will be trying to raise $40,000 for spay and neuter programs. Watch for details in an upcoming issue of Desert Exposure. www.highdeserthumane.org.
BloomNet, one of the floral industry's leading wire service providers, has recognized Silver Leaf Floral in Silver City with its Award of Quality Achievement. The national award honors the shop and owner Peggy Bryan for "superior quality floral products and excellence in customer service." Silver Leaf is located in Piñon Plaza, 1611 Silver Heights Blvd., (575) 388-1451.
The Grant County literacy group Literacy Link-Leamos ("Getting the Word," August 2011) has a new program coordinator, Wendy Wegner, who's taken over after the retirement of long-time coordinator Michelle Detterick, and will be sponsoring its annual Love Your Library day on Feb. 9. The free event, with the theme of "Reach for the Stars!," will be 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at the Public Library in Silver City. Along with a free-book giveaway, prize drawings and games, the event will feature live musical performances, storytelling and readings (of course!), crafts and healthy treats. No advance registration is required. For more information, contact Literacy Link-Leamos at the Silver City library, 515 W. College Ave., (575) 388-0892, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Tumbleweeds Top 10
Who and what's been making news from New Mexico this past month, as measured by mentions in Google News (news.google.com). Trends noted are vs. last month's total hits; * indicates new to the list. Number in parenthesis indicates last month's Top 10 rank. Time to turn the page on some long-time Top 10 contenders. Heather Wilson, we're talking to you… and Gary Johnson, you've been warned.
- (2) New Mexico drought — 8,720 hits (▲)
- (3) New Mexico spaceport — 4,040 hits (▼)
- (4) Virgin Galactic — 2,550 hits (▼)
- (6) Gov. Susana Martinez — 2,220 hits (▲)
- (7) Ex-Gov. Gary Johnson + president — 823 hits (▼)
- (-) New Mexico driver's licenses — 756 hits (▲)
- (-) Spaceport America — 702 hits (▲
- (8) Sen. Tom Udall — 469 hits (▼)
- (-) New Mexico illegal immigration — 372 hits (▼)
- (9) Richard Branson + New Mexico — 330 hits (▲)