On Saturday, January 26, the South Seattle Community College Foundation broke a record by raising nearly $185,000 with its sold-out Gifts from the Earth, a dinner and collaboration of students, staff, faculty and community supporters. The event raised money for student support including scholarships, program equipment, emergency funding, tutoring and more.
This year, the proceeds highlighted the 13th Year Promise Scholarship, which guarantees students of Cleveland High School and Chief Sealth International High School a free year of tuition-free classes at South Seattle Community College. College President, Gary Oertli, said the high school students who benefit from the scholarship, often from low-income families, are typically the first generation to go to college.
“Tonight, was certainly a night to remember,” Oertli said.
This event marked the tenth year for Gifts from the Earth, which began in 2003. Last year, the event raised $160,000.
The evening opened with a reception and silent auction viewing on the college campus. South Seattle Community College culinary arts students and alumni were able to work the event while interacting with guests. Culinary arts students prepared and offered hor d’oeuvres to guests. Northwest Wine Academy students poured local wine, while the college’s hospitality management students served as concierges for guests. On average, 1,500 students go through the culinary arts program per year.
“It’s amazing how this engages students in these programs and allows the students to get great exposure,” said Keith Schreiber, former president and chair for the South Seattle Community College Foundation.
Wine Marketing student Kara Castillo, whose parents own their own winery, is in her fourth quarter and was able to attend the event for a second time. Gifts from the Earth is a great opportunity for students to network with professionals.
“I get to see what it’s like to represent a winery and the amount of work that goes into it,” Castillo said.
She said her brother wants to learn to make wine and she wanted to learn about wine sales. Castillo said they both plan on working together and eventually taking on the family business.
Reggie Daigneault, a full-time faculty member and coordinator for the Wine Technology department, which has approximately 150 students each quarter, recently had an interview on New Day Northwest. She said the student-made wine from the winery on campus — yes, the winery is on the college campus and open to the public — is sold to distributors who also get to work with students. Visit the Northwest Wine Academy for wine tasting, food pairing, and sales between 1 and 4 p.m., Thursdays and Fridays.
Faculty members seem to have an effect on students long after they graduate. Various alumi who are wine makers and winery owners embraced Daigneault. International student, Jessie Chuang, from Taiwan, is studying Wine Marketing. Chuang said she considers Daigneault more of a friend than an advisor.
Culinary Arts students Renee Vogel and Greg Miller are in their fifth quarter specializing in restaurant work. Vogel said she was very pleased she got to learn from work alongside chefs, including French Chef Robert Houot, who were able to provide their constructive criticism. Miller added that the program was able to help him pay for one of his quarters at the college.
The students created some amazing pieces of edible art. Fairest Apple of Them All was blown sugar glass that took the form of an apple that was filled an apple mousse placed on top of cinnamon meringue. The dessert was served with a spiced white chocolate hazelnut cake with cinnamon ganache and caramel sauce with an infusion of pink peppercorns. Another impressive dessert was an Eiffel Tower model made of gingerbread that was on display at the reception.
Three hundred people gathered in the Jerry M. Brockey Center to enjoy wine from more than 30 Washington wineries and multi-course meals prepared by celebrity chefs from Seattle’s finest restaurants who had the assistance of the college’s culinary arts students. New Day Northwest host Maragaret Larson emceed, opening the dinner that was followed by a welcome from President Oertli.
“The funds raised tonight make an immeasurable difference for our students and future students,” Oertli said. “Words cannot express our gratitude to our generous supporters.”
Sponsors for the dinner include Food Services of America, The Boeing Company, Union Bank, Charlie’s Produce, Interbay Food Company, Ferguson Construction, Rebar Associates, PLLC, Southern Wine and Spirits, McGranahan Architects and Pedersen’s Rentals.
“We are excited to make next year even better,” Oertli said.