WESTFIELD-The Westfield Police Department and Westfield Police Association, along with Westfield Senior Center staffers and volunteers, are hosting the second “Cops for a Cause” chili luncheon on Sept. 17.
“The drive-through event is a vehicle version of taking a stroll,” said Tina Gorman, executive director, Westfield Council on Aging. “Participants take their time and can enjoy the festive atmosphere.”
Since the Westfield Senior Center remains closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, city officials continue to come up with creative ways to host events while keeping residents safe.
“We purposely snake the food line throughout the entire parking lot of the Westfield Senior Center so that staff, volunteers, and in this case, members of the Westfield Police Department, have a chance to socialize with the participants while they wait in their cars,” said Gorman. “It is a golden opportunity for our seniors to safely interact with an upbeat and caring group of city employees and dedicated volunteers.”
Proceeds raised from the chili luncheon will benefit the local Alzheimer’s Association.
The $5 meal will feature officer Mark Carboneau’s “secret family recipe” of chili. Carboneau is a member of the community service unit and also serves as the senior safety officer with an office at the senior center.
“I believe nothing brings a family or community together like sharing a meal,” said Carboneau. “The smiles, conversations and relationships that are generated during these events are both gratifying and extremely rewarding.”
Police Chief Lawrence Valliere echoed those sentiments.
“Events like this afford us an opportunity to interact with members of the community, outside of a law enforcement related situation,” said Valliere. “It’s important for us to be visible and know our residents. We are a part of the community and in order to be accepted as such, we need to be involved with the community. On top of that, this particular event is just a lot of fun and leaves you with the feeling that you did something good.”
The meal will also feature food services coordinator Joann Boucher’s coleslaw and honey cornbread.
“Joann is known for her amazingly delicious cornbread,” said Gorman. “She adds a secret ingredient and it is a perfect complement to Mark’s chili. Also, Joann recently whipped up her own version of a delectable coleslaw, which Mark has tagged ‘Joslaw.’ She added a variety of mouth-watering ingredients.”
Gorman is hopeful that once again the fundraiser will raise or exceed a goal of $500.
“Since we’re doing this event in a nontraditional manner, it’s difficult to set a fundraising goal,” said Gorman, adding, “I’m sure that we can reach the $500 mark and I would be delighted with anything beyond that number.”
Gorman extended the cap to 200 meals and reservations will be taken by telephone beginning Sept. 8 at 1 p.m. by calling (413) 562-6435. The $5 fee will be paid curbside on the day of the event from 11 a.m. – noon.
“Each caller may reserve up to four meals and must provide the name and telephone number for each person on his or her reservation list,” said Gorman.
Highlights of the event will include a curbside 50/50 drawing where patrons can purchase a sheet of 25 tickets for $5 and volunteers will write the person’s name on the master ticket for identification. The winner will be contacted Sept. 18 after Carboneau draws the lucky ticket from a bucket. Half of the money from the 50/50 drawing will go to the winner and the other half will be donated to the Alzheimer’s Association.
To top off the meal, Valliere and fellow officers will be in charge of distributing dessert curbside – ice cream sundaes with a lot of “decadent toppings,” according to Gorman.
“Like all of the Councils on Aging across the Commonwealth, Westfield regularly utilizes the educational, respite, and advocacy resources offered through our local Alzheimer’s Association,” said Gorman. “We hope that you’ll wear purple, the symbolic color of the Alzheimer’s Association, and join the COA staff, volunteers, and members of the Westfield Police Department for this special event to raise funds for research, prevention, and care initiatives.”