For the past four years, Frances Scholtz and Melissa Gernert have offered a select group of girls in Maryhurst’s programs the chance to experience restaurant dining at Porcini, a community partner of Maryhurst. Through the program, children learn the social norms of fine dining in a relaxed, safe and private environment.
Frances first learned about Maryhurst during a visit to our Dorsey Lane campus in 2014. After hearing the children’s stories, she told Maryhurst she would like to host a dinner using an educational format she has used with other children. She enlisted the help of her good friend, Melissa, and the two began the project in April 2014. Since then, Frances and Melissa have sponsored two dinners each year, the most recent of which took place at the end of November 2017.
“This is something small that Melissa and I can do that we hope makes these girls feel special and loved,” shares Frances.
One important point of emphasis for the dinner is being present with your fellow diners, with Frances and Melissa centering the experience on live discussion and away from distractions such as mobile devices.
At each table setting there is a placemat that explains the traditional placement and use of utensils and dinnerware. Porcini kitchen and serving staff then bring out a tasting menu that features selections from the restaurant’s current fare. The meal is always topped off with an amazing dessert that is individually decorated with each child’s name.
“The kids always come in nervous, but as the night progresses, it’s so much fun to see them relax and enjoy the whole experience,’ says Melissa.
Frances praises Tim Coury, owner of Porcini, “Tim always makes a point of coming in to meet the girls and let them know how glad he is that they are there.”
Tim, in turn, thanks Frances and Melissa for offering a special evening to the Maryhurst girls that is both educational and fun: “This kind of experience is something most of these girls would never have otherwise.”
Maryhurst is grateful to Frances Scholtz and Melissa Gernert for this creative way of helping our children.
If this sparks an idea for how you or a group you belong to could host a special event for children in our care, please contact Liz Nickley at 502.271.4526.