Chef Robert (Daugherty), Director of Food and Beverage at The Peninsula wanted to give back to the community that had welcomed him so warmly, and shared with a group of residents from The Peninsula the idea of providing a Thanksgiving dinner, complete with tablecloths and restaurant table settings for the Boys and Girls Club of Oak Orchard. At that meeting, Connie Little, member of the Long Neck Sunrise Rotary Club, seized on the idea and took it up a notch by suggesting that the Rotary Club not only help Chef Robert on the designated day, but that the Club would offer a series of manner lessons to the children over the months of October and November leading up to the big event. The Youth Committee of the Long Neck Sunrise Rotary Club seized on the idea, and the “Manners for Life” program was born.
This idea of a Thanksgiving dinner was not a new concept to Chef Robert, he having done similar work for the homeless in Cambridge, Massachusetts, partnering with the local Rotary Club there. He found the idea of serving the children at the Oak Orchard Boys and Girls Club as meeting his spirit of giving objectives, after assisting the club with their Great Futures Gala. The food and beverage team at the Peninsula were on board immediately as well, and the partnership was born.
Connie Little and fellow Rotarians offered a series of mini-lessons to the children at the Club over a series of 5 weeks. Prior to their start, 30 children attending the Personal Care unit offered by the Boys and Girls Club were treated to personal hygiene kits, courtesy of the Long Neck Sunrise Rotary Club. As part of the Manners for Life program, the Older children, part of the Smart Girls and Path to Manhood group at the Boys and Girls Club, received lessons on Manners 101, How to Be a Good Friend, and Gratitude is the Best Attitude as part of the Manners for Life program. All children attending the Oak Orchard Boys and Girls Club were offered training on Manners and Table Setting and Training on Centerpieces, Napkin Folding and Place Cards.
Erica Kennedy, Oak Orchard Boys and Girls Club Directory noted: “We welcome new and informative programming into the Boys and Girls Club that will assist our youth with practicing responsible and social performance. And we appreciate our partnership with the Rotary Club and Chef Robert on this very special endeavor.”
On November 26, 2019, Chef Robert and his team arrived at the Oak Orchard Boys and Girls Club with a complete Thanksgiving dinner featuring 60 pounds of turkey, two hams, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, salad, and yes, apple and pumpkin pie for dessert. The meal had been pre-cooked at The Peninsula by the food team there and Long Neck Sunrise Rotarians helped with table set up and service. The food, table service and linens were donated, with Peninsula vendors Sysco Food Service, Keany Produce and Capitol Linen donating the lion’s share of the approximate $400 in cost. 108 children were served and take-home meals were also prepared. The children enjoyed every last morsel.
“As providers in the food industry, we received gratuities all the time from our patrons,” remarked Chef Robert. “This dinner was our opportunity to give back. The Rotary team was instrumental in helping us serve the children. The entire event was a three-team effort.”
“The Long Neck Sunrise Rotary Club views our mission to make a difference in our community by serving its youth, adults and business. We have had a longtime partnership with the Oak Orchard Boys and Girls Club, providing monthly birthday parties and sponsoring a Pitch, Hit and Run tournament in the Spring,” stated Long Neck Sunrise Rotary Club John Berner. “Extending this partnership to inaugurate our Manners for Life program and include Chef Robert and his team from the Peninsula was a wonderful way for us to continue to change lives.”
Pictured From Left to Right: Hygiene kits for boys and girls were donated by the Long Neck Sunrise Rotary Club; Connie Little (standing) with assistance from Lynn Henry (right) leads a program on centerpieces.; Lucille Cavan (center) with assistance from Cathy Cardaneo (left) leads a Manners for Life program; Children enjoying their Thanksgiving meal.
Pictured from left to right: Children from Oak Orchard Boys and Girls Club enjoying their dinner; Oak Orchard Boys and Girls Club attendee, Kalani Ellis, with her Thanksgiving dinner; Long Neck Sunrise Rotarian Mike Hall serves lemonade.