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Rotary Happenings: Riska-Hall provides update of Community House

By Staff | Oct 26, 2017

Sanibel Community Association Executive Director Teresa Riska-Hall. PHOTO PROVIDED

Here we go. Already our calendars are getting filled with island events that mark the beginning of pre-season and season. Snowbirds are arriving and after a few days of evaluating any damage to their properties from Hurricane Irma are anxious to get back into the social whirl of Sanibel and Captiva activities. As we all know, as of last January, the beautifully remodeled and restored Sanibel Community House reopened and provides for our community the perfect place for many of those island activities. So, it was time now to check-in with Teresa Riska-Hall, Sanibel Community Association executive director, for an update on Community House goings-on this season and what community members can look forward to from the new CH Culinary Center.

The Community House and Sanibel-Captiva Rotary has had an on-going relationship for a long-time and when the CH first began their fundraising activities a couple of years ago to rebuild and restore the Community House, San-Cap Rotary led the way with a donation of $75,000 from the club and another $20,000 or so from individual Rotarians to support this cause.

When Teresa came to the podium last Friday, she thanked Rotary for their financial support of the Community House rebuild and gave a run-down of how that support was used in the rebuild project: $50,000 was designated to fitting out the CH stage area with stage curtains, sound and light equipment, etc. and the building of a power lift for access to the stage for the handicapped; $20,000 for the CH Culinary Center’s Children Cooking Program; and $5,000 for sponsorship of Rotarian, John Danner, in the first ever “Cooking with the Island Stars” fundraising event. Individual Rotarian donations where used in the Culinary Center/kitchen itself with monies used for a three-compartment sink and faucet fittings, ice machine, and shelving in the kitchen. Anyone who has visited the renovated Community House knows that this financial investment by San-Cap Rotary and Rotarians has been well used and all of us are impressed with the beautiful out-come of construction and the functionality of the building for community events.

Teresa told us that, “Event booking is key to financially sustaining the Community House and with the return bookings of community organizations, non-profits, and businesses for meeting and social event space the CH event calendar is filling up.” New events are taking advantage of the refitted facility and the realization of well-designed space for usage in all categories’ is providing space community members and businesses will be able to use for personal and business happenings. Get your event booked nowbefore it’s too late.

The new CH Culinary Center with Professional Chef Jarred Harris at the helm has become a magnet for community member and island visitors participation in culinary programming from hands on cooking classes to cooking demonstration activities with a board range of culinary learning opportunities. This season the culinary education program is being sponsored by the Sanibel Captiva Trust Company and let me tell you on a personal note, “Chef Jared’s classes are extraordinary.” Signup for one and you won’t be disappointed.

Chef Jared is also the cooking guru in charge of the “Cooking with Kids” program sponsored by Sanibel-Captiva Rotary this year. This program began last spring with classes for home-schooled children, continued through the summer as part of the Rec. Center Summer Program, and is continuing through season with special “Cooking with Kids” menu driven hands-on cooking classes (scholarships available).

Another noted new Community House offering is children’s theater classes and presentations by the Creative Theater Workshop. My grandson and I went this past weekend to see their “Annie Kids” production and it was wonderful. Starting Nov. 30 will be “Elf Junior,” don’t wait to get your tickets, only six performances and tickets will sell out soonordering mine today.

Don’t forget the regular monthly potluck dinnerold Sanibel at its best.

A membership drive will be starting soon and volunteers are not only welcomed, but needed. Good things are happening at the Sanibel Community Houseit’s the new place to be and be seen.

Thanks, Teresa for managing the enormous project of restoring, rebuilding, and re-opening of the Sanibel-Community Houseyou have and are doing a great job.

The Sanibel-Captiva Rotary meets at 7 a.m., Friday mornings at the Dunes Golf & Tennis Club. Guests are always welcomed.