The tables were set with white linen clothes with folded red napkins, decorated with colored shells and flower petals. The aroma of smoked pork and ribs, dressing and baked beams, cabbage sprouts and collards filled the room.
Palm trees and Hawaiian leis were scattered about and as the room began to fill, the music began to play. And so began the second annual It’s from The Heart.. A Hawaiian Luau to celebrate the farmworkers in and around the Hastings Community.
Sponsored for the second year by Pie in the Sky, the grassroots non-profit organization dedicated to bringing services to Hastings, the event quickly became a county wide event, with help coming from all four corners of St. Johns County.
“This was the year everyone showed their support for the men and women who work so hard to bring food to America’s tables,” said Malea Guiriba, director of Pie in the Sky.
“Nearly everything in this room was donated,” Guiriba said. “For instance, University of Florida IFIS donated a van full of cabbage, which the folks from St. Francis House turned into slaw for today.
“It’s a beautiful thing. No one person is doing everything, but lots and lots of people are doing something.”
As more than 200 farmworkers arrived at the cafeteria, they were greeted by welcoming volunteers, live music and goody bags filled to overflow with basic necessities, such as toothpaste, razors, shampoo, soap and new socks.
The band, Lightly Salted, who donated their time and talent for the day, got everyone in the mood with their mix of 60’s and 70’s hits and had lots of folks dancing with their doo-wop.
Marion, a farmworker from Hastings knew most of the songs and sang along while entertaining the volunteers with his dancing.
“This is the most fun I have had a long time,” he said smiling. “It’s just so nice to have an afternoon to relax and have fun.”
Nearly 50 volunteers worked days in advance to help make the day special. Flagler Hospital Business office baked tons of homemade sweets and decorated and filled 100 goodie bags with soap, shampoos, socks and razors.
Fruit Cove Baptist Church youth group made wonderfully decorated bags for all the goodies to be put in as did Maria and her sister at The Print Shop in St. Augustine.
“The care and attention to detail that everyone in the community committed to providing made this the special event that it was,” Guiriba said.
David Mariotti donated the lush red and white tablecloths and red linen napkins, which the volunteer spent hours using to decorate the tables with great care.
Laine Horowitz from St. Ambrose brought along volunteers from her church, who said they were amazed at what they saw.
“The Pie in the Sky event to benefit farm workers was a beautiful thing to see,” Horowitz said.
“The atmosphere was so carefree and upbeat; an obvious welcome respite in the lives of those for whom such moments are few and far between. As a volunteer, I was amazed at the outpouring of gifts, food, time and effort on the part of the community, and felt privileged to do my small part. Malea and Pie in the Sky are truly a gift from heaven!”
Food was prepared by Stephanie Woods and her husband, served along with tons of side dishes donated by volunteers. Bingo, with e prizes followed.
Russell, a tall man with a wide grin had been shaking his maracas to the music all day and finally got the nerve to dance. He seemed so lost in the revelry of the moment, but his infectious grin never left his face and he said, “I don’t want this day to ever end.”
But as the food disappeared and everyone was given a brand new shirt and socks and their bags full of goodies, the music, along with day began to wind down.
“I was so touched to see the smiles on the faces of these guys,” volunteer Melissa Strohminger said.
“It just did my heart good to see them have fun and be treated so special.”
Special thanks to the businesses that helped with the special day including:
Maria Burke at The Print Shop; Laine Horowitz and -St. Ambrose Church; Kirsten Brewer and Fruit Cove Baptist Church, Flagler Hospital business office, David Marriotti, Sertoma Club, MLK of Hastings, St. Johns County Parks and Recreation Department, St. Francis House, Sunrise Rotary, Hastings IFIS, Simple Gestures and Flagler Estates Community Improvement Association