Sweet, soulful and savory, the annual Heart & Soul Dip Dinner benefit feast will be served up for the 13th year to eager East End eaters, from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, at the Charleston Family Resource Center in the Ruffner Neighborhood Center on Charleston’s East End.
Professional and amateur cooks will dole out a variety of of their specialty victuals, delighting appetites of all ages and supporting the center’s various civic programs in the process.
“During a brainstorming session in 2006, we thought that a ‘Dip Dinner’ was a way to bring the community together while hosting a fundraiser,” said Beth Kerns, a longtime organizer of the yearly event. “It was decided that the best time to hold this dinner would be at the end of February, about the time people are looking for something to do after the cold winter months.
“Since February is known for Valentine’s Day and Black History Month,” Kerns said, “we named this event the Heart & Soul Dip Dinner.”
Kerns defined as a dip dinner as “simply an event where attendees purchase tickets for 50 cents each. They use the tickets to purchase a ‘dip’ or serving-spoon portion of a side dish for one ticket. Entrees and desserts range in price from two to six tickets. Beverages and takeout boxes are one ticket. It is very similar to the ‘Taste of Charleston,’ only with good, ol’ home-c ooked soul and ethnic foods made with lots of love.
“It’s a way to bring the community together for a common cause — the people that donate the food, the people who come out and support it,” the West Side resident said. “It’s really supporting the programs on a budget; for as little as $10, you can help the cause. Of course, you can spend more if you want, but its not a $100-a-plate dinner. We wanted to keep it affordable so everybody can do their part. All income levels can help.”
The Heart & Soul Dip Dinner is supported by area churches, businesses, organizations and individuals who prepare and donate the food, Kerns said.
At presstime, along with the signature soul food dishes, Greek, Filapino and other ethnic recipes will be brought to life at the dinner.
“Until the day of the event, we never know what the dishes will be, but we’re trying to get more variety,” Kerns said. “When we started, it was mostly soul food, but, with various churches coming in, we have a lot more ethnicities represented. People like that. With a dip dinner, you can try it and, if you like it, go back and get more.”
Kerns added that the nearby Baptist Temple will manage the dessert table, an annual favorite. “They usually have three tables of desserts.”
Advance ticket vouchers can be purchased at the Charleston Family Resource Center’s office at 502 Ruffner Ave. in Charleston, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays.
“We provide a table for each group to serve their very best dishes during the event,” she said. “Of course, there is always some good-natured competition to see who has the best meal, specialty dish or dessert. It is easy to see why this has become a favorite event for many folks in the Charleston area.”
Proceeds go to the Charleston Family Resource Center located in the Roosevelt Neighborhood Center. The Charleston Family Resource Center’s mission entails “building bridges of opportunities” by giving residents of Charleston the opportunity to achieve.
“We accomplish our mission by coordinating, facilitating and initiating activities and programs that respond to the needs of families,” Kerns said.
Serving the community since 1997, the center offers programs at its East End and West Side locations. These programs include
• The Charleston Police Department Police Athletic/Activities League (or PAL), an after-school endeavor.
• Parents as Teachers, which provides support for young mothers, and a diaper and clothes pantry.
• A nutrition program and recreational activities for senior citizens.
• Computer, music, art, dance and recording studio instruction.
• Guest speakers, health screenings and education.
• Community gardens.
For more information regarding the Heart & Soul Dip Dinner and its selection of community activities, visit the Facebook page, “Charleston Family Resource Center.”