DEWITTVILLE - A night of celebrating Camp Onyahsa's mission and goal to foster excellence in youth is coming to Chautauqua Lake.
The 11th annual YMCA Camp Onyahsa Dinner Dance is set for Saturday at 6 p.m. at the camp's restored 1938 Darrah Hultquist Dining Hall.
The event will feature a catered menu by New York Mets executive chef Robert Flowers, live music by Richie Leeper's Soul Revival band, an auction and the presentation of YMCA's 2012 Paul B. Sullivan Lifetime Service Award to Roberta Thompson.
Area children enjoy the quality residential camping opportunities at Camp Onyahsa. Pictured at center and right, the community enjoying previous years of Camp Onyahsa’s dinner dance.
According to Jon O'Brian, camp director, the harvest dinner dance raises money that allows the camp to provide quality camp experiences and to foster excellence in youth development.
"This is really important for the youth of our community," said O'Brian. "All the funds raised stay within southern Chautauqua County to help kids experience quality residential camping."
The event is also held to recognize an individual who exhibits years of service, dedication and commitment to the Jamestown area YMCAs. Thompson, this year's recipient, has been a member of the YMCA since 1974. She became a board member in 1984 and was the first female elected as board president in the history of the Jamestown Y. Thompson is currently an associate broker with Real Estate Advantage in Jamestown and she is serving on the YMCA board of trustees as well as the feasibility committee. She was also a member and past president of the National Association of Realtors and a regular volunteer with the Chautauqua County Humane Society.
"Each year we have one recipient of the award," said O'Brian. "And, this year's recipient, Roberta, is a real community advocate. We truly see her as an asset to the community and wanted to recognize her volunteer service."
The event will be catered by Michael Flowers and his son Robert. Michael is an Associate broker for ERA Vacation Properties Real Estate who during the summer months serves as food service director for Camp Onyahsa. His son Robert began his culinary craft by helping his parents with their Bradford, Pa., restaurant and bakery. He then attended culinary school at the Pennsylvania Institute of Culinary Arts, and he completed an internship with the Four Seasons Hotel in Chicago. Robert will be donating the proceeds from catering this event to Camp Onyahsa in memory of his late mother, Marsha, who in past years catered the dinner dance in addition to hosting culinary arts classes.
"I was always very impressed with the camp," said Michael. "So, Robert and I decided to continue Marsha's tradition of catering the event to memorialize her. When you see the children first hand having a great time and that underprivileged kids are given the same opportunities, you can't help but want to support such an organization."
According to O'Brian, the significance of hosting a fundraiser such as this is that it allows the camp to be available to all children in the community.
"We want any local child to be able to experience quality residential camping regardless of family income," said O'Brian. "We have quite an extensive summer camp scholarship program, and the harvest dinner dance helps to fund that effort. It's vital that programs such as ours, that serve youth of different backgrounds in the community, engage in fundraising."
The Richie Leeper band Soul Revival will provide live entertainment for the evening. They provided a great draw at last year's dinner dance, so they were invited back again this year, said O'Brian.
"Last year people really had an opportunity to have an enjoyable evening with their friends, and fellowship is another important part of this evening," said O'Brian. "It's an opportunity for folks to join together before the holidays. Plus, Richie Leeper and Soul Revival are a fun, large band that provides great music for dancing. The event will be held in our newly renovated and heated main dining hall that is just a few feet from the lake. It has a big stage in it, which is perfect because this band really puts out the sound to make the evening a lot of fun."
Mark Alpaugh, manager and keyboardist for the Richie Leeper band Soul Revival, is looking forward to playing the Camp Onyahsa dinner dance again this year, he said.
"It's a beautiful event," said Alpaugh. "This is our third time being asked to play it, and it's always a joy. The band is on a high stage overlooking a beautifully decorated hall. The hall is entirely wood, so it has a rich reverberant sound that enhances the sound of the group. The folks that attend are very receptive to what we play, which is a mix of classic Soul and R&B dance tunes."
Community members are invited to attend this semi-formal evening. Tickets may be purchased for $75 per person through the YMCA Camp Onyahsa office or one of the camp's board members. More information may be obtained by contacting Itza Morales at 664-2802, ext. 238, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or online at www.onyahsa.org.