April 23 wine tasting to make splash for retired senior volunteers


Anyone who enjoys drinking wine, and helping the community, has the chance to do both during the first annual wine tasting fundraiser held by Westbay Community Action Retired Senior and Volunteer Program (RSVP) on April 23.

The event will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. at the SPLASH Theater at Jordan’s Furniture, located within the Warwick Mall, and feature SPLASH, the store’s entertaining show that includes more than 9,000 water nozzles, 15,000 watts of digital surround sound, 20,000 watts of light and 16 watts of state-of-the-art lasers.

“We wanted something new, exciting and fun for our volunteers, as well as the community,” said RSVP Director Tanisha Simpson. “We figured a wine tasting event would give everybody a chance to chat and get to know one another.”

Westbay Community Action Volunteer Coordinator Patty Martucci agreed.

“We wanted to do something different,” she said. “And everybody knows where the mall is.”

In addition to a variety of local and imported wine provided by People’s Liquor Warehouse, guests will be treated to food samplings donated by Macera’s Kitchen, and are welcome to take part in a silent auction of sports and rock music memorabilia, as well as raffles. Funds will benefit the RSVP Medical Transportation Program, which Simpson and Martucci cited as one of RSVP’s most important programs.

While volunteers are not paid, some who take part in the transportation program are refunded for gas money, as they often drive Westbay clients to medical appointments. Proceeds from the fundraiser will allow Westbay to be able to continue to reimburse drivers.

“We all know gas is expensive and I have volunteers that drive 312 miles that they’ll do within a month,” Simpson said. “They say, ‘I’m OK, I don’t need to be reimbursed,’ but our goal is to be able to reimburse those who do need it, especially those who travel on a day-to-day basis. It’s our way of saying ‘thank you,’ even though they are not looking for a handout.”

Simpson and Martucci said these volunteers certainly deserve it. Last year, 680 volunteers for RSVP dedicated 86,000 hours of their time to help local people in need. Through a variety of programs, such as mentoring school children, assisting senior centers and non-profit organizations, doing clerical work, providing assistance at the Westbay Marketplace, as well as the transportation program, and more, volunteers serve individuals aged 55 and older who reside in Warwick, West Warwick, Coventry and East Greenwich.

According to the website at Westbaycap.org, the mission of Westbay Community Action is to “assist economically disadvantaged Kent County residents achieve and sustain self-sufficiency and stability … Individuals and families learn to build economic self-sufficiency through education, life-skills training, counseling, and case management.” Funding comes from an array of local, state and federal funds, as well as private organizations, donations and fundraisers such as the wine tasting event. Any excess funds from fundraisers are used to plan yearly recognition luncheons.

To help make the event a success, they secured sports memorabilia autographed by acclaimed professional athletes such as Rob Gronkowski, Tedy Bruschi, Milan Lucic, Zdeno Chara, Shawn Thornton, Alex “A-Rod” Rodriguez, Ted Williams, Carl Yazstremski, Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz and more.

“If you’re a big Red Sox fan, you may want to go to bid on some of the items,” Simpson said.

Martucci added that rock music fans won’t be disappointed either, as signed music memorabilia features artists like Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, Rod Stewart, U2, KISS and John Cougar Mellencamp.

Simpson and Martucci said the list of raffle items is great, too, and expressed their gratitude to local businesses that donated items for the cause, including Top of the Bay, Mizu Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar, Remington House Inn, Ocean State Theatre Company and Trinity Repertory Theatre.

They also are thankful to Macera’s for the food, Jordan’s Furniture, which makes SPLASH free of charge to non-profit organizations and charity groups for events with a minimum of 200 people, as well as People’s Liquor Warehouse, as they are having at least four vendors, including Sakonnet Vineyards, serving and educating guests about wine.

“We wanted to have a local flavor to the event in terms of encouraging people to go to the local businesses that are providing donations,” Martucci said, also noting that representatives from Westbay will be at the mall April 20 raffling off a wine-themed basket community booth and selling tickets to the event. The Warwick Mall is located at 400 Bald Hill Road.

Tickets are $15 for active Westbay RSVP volunteers and $25 per person for the general public. Soft drinks will be available. For more information or to purchase tickets, call Martucci at 732-4666, ext. 152 or e-mail pmartucci@westbaycap.org or tsimpson@westbaycap.org.


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