Haitian native’s meals raise $5,000 for earthquake relief

PORT ANGELES — Who says one person can’t make a difference? A daylong fundraising dinner Monday, the brainchild of Haitian native Dieula Marie Fromm, raised $5,000 for the American Red Cross relief efforts in Haiti.

Fromm, who lives in Port Angeles, wanted to aid her fellow Haitians. She did so by cooking authentic Haitian food and serving it all day from her catering business on Eighth Street.

Fromm was assisted by an army of volunteers, headed by her daughter, Linda Hofer.

Hofer said between 500 and 600 takeout meals were served up by the Peninsula College men’s and women’s basketball teams, as well as Hofer’s classmates from the college nursing program and other volunteers.

A group of Haitian women from Seattle helped out in the kitchen, cooking up large pots of red beans and rice and mixed vegetables, baking crispy pork and deep frying plantains, all in traditional Haitian style.

Fromm and Hofer had never done anything like this, and were unsure what the response would be.

“I was blown away,” Hofer said.

“I was worried no one would come. For the community to be so receptive and so generous was amazing.”

Michelle Kelley, executive director of the Olympic Peninsula Chapter of the Red Cross, said the dinner grossed $5,616.80.

“Is that not absolutely amazing?” Kelley said.

Fromm had purchased nearly all the food, with very few donations from the community.

After deducting Fromm’s expenses, Hofer said exactly $5,000 was donated to the Red Cross.

“The people came for the food, but they also came to donate,” Hofer said.

The price for the meal was simply by donation.

Kelley, who spent time taking donations at the dinner, said people paid from $5 to $100 for a Styrofoam container full of hot food, with the average being $10 to $20.

Since Fromm had no idea what kind of response to expect, she also had no idea how much food to cook.

While the planned menu items were thinned out by late afternoon, the women kept cooking up whatever they could dream up, including pate creole, a spicy meat pie.

“It changed during the day,” Kelley said. “Every time you turned around, there was something different that came out of the kitchen.”

Fromm also offered people the option of calling in orders, which accounted for about 100 meals.

Hofer said they were also concerned that people might not like what was probably their first taste of Haitian food, but the reviews were all good.

Some people came back for seconds, and one man from Florida was excited to be able to get Haitian food in Port Angeles, Hofer said.

“It was a lot of work, but definitely a good experience,” Hofer said. “We would do it again — but not immediately.”

Donations for Haitian relief — with Haiti Relief on the memo line — can be mailed to the Olympic Peninsula Chapter of the American Red Cross at P.O. Box 188, Carlsborg, WA 98324.

Donations also can be made online at www.peninsularedcross.org or at the national organization Web site at www.redcross.org or by phone, using a Visa or MasterCard, at 360-457-7933.

Donations also can be texted on a cell phone, according to the chapter’s Web site. A $10 donation can be given by texting “Haiti” to 9-0-9-9-9.

The Jefferson County office of the Red Cross chapter is at 219-D W. Patison, Port Hadlock. The phone number is 360-385-2737.

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