MARLBOROUGH- Back in 1989 when the first annual Evening of Giving to benefit the local Marlborough shelter now known as Roland's House took place, organizers Roland Simoneau & his wife Joan likely did not predict that 30 years later not only would the annual benefit still be going strong, but the holiday spirit stronger than ever. Yet the couple had witnessed a need in their community for upgrades to the shelter, formerly located in the Walker Building basement, which today now rests on Mechanic Street serving as an emergency shelter for the community.
"After 30 years, everybody continues to come out," says local resident and organizer Trish Pope who admits the event is part of what first made her fall in love with the strong sense of community. "It's the first thing I jumped on board with when I moved here to Marlborough, which made me totally entrenched in the city." It's clear to see why the event is still such a hit today: if it's not coming to take a chance at winning one of their coveted raffle prizes that's drawing you in, it just may be to enjoy a bite at all the best restaurants in Marlborough under one roof. From sweet treats like a hand-torched caramel brûlée to savory soups or freshly made authentic tacos, it's simply impossible to try everything in one round. The Vin Bin Cafe, located just at the corner of Main Street, made sure they came prepared for the crowds. "We cut in half six foot long subs. This is a Muffaletta, it's a New Orleans style Italian sandwich with olive salad, provolone cheese, salami, ham, olive oil and vinegar," explains Vin Bin Chef Mike Lombardi as he and his wife Hannah served up slices to each and every smiling face they saw.
Yet that same contagious, positive energy was seen from booth to booth. Owner of Chill Kitchen & Bar, John Logomasini, explains why. "It's good to be a part of the community, and I love to show that appreciation. It's a gathering of great people," he said smiling ear to ear as he served up samples of Chill Kitchen's hearty ravioli.
Even Mayor of Marlborough Arthur Vigeant couldn't stay away from the festive fundraiser, praising the efforts of Chairman Bob Kays to keep the tradition alive.
"Bob Kays and his team has been doing this for 30 years-I think he was like 20 years old when he started doing this."
When asked about his favorite dish of the evening, Mayor Vigeant admits he was just getting started but did enjoy Zarape's, a local authentic Mexican restaurant that was just one of many who stepped up to give back. "It's a big effort from just about all of the restaurants in the community. A lot of people step up to the plate to take the opportunity to keep the shelter open." Throughout the evening, residents contributed by bringing local hygiene products that were then taken to the local shelter while funds raised over the years have contributed to major renovations that continue to keep the shelter a warm and clean beacon of hope for those in need.
Watch more from the 30th Annual Evening of Giving below: