There was much to savor at the Art Box on November 12, 2022. Decorated elegantly and filled to the brim with food and drink, the event was a delight for anyone fortunate enough to attend. With musical accompaniment, dinner, and a silent auction making up the night’s activities, attendees were in good spirits as they raised glasses to fundraise for Rotary Club of Belmopan’s Children’s Program.
Attendees to the Rotary Club of Belmopan’s annual ‘Wine and Cheese’ fundraiser were in for a gorgeous night programmed largely by partnering organization The Belize Collection. Not only did TBC assist in coordinating the multi-drink stations throughout the venue, but they also recruited TBC’s own Chef Rahim to provide a robust charcuterie spread featuring an ample selection of cured meats, aged cheeses, nuts, fruit, and spreads of all flavors and textures.
Cheeses included BellaVitano sartori, manchego cheese, and some divine gouda alongside Western Dairies’ staples, such as Mozzarella, cheddar, and ricotta, produced right down the highway. Cured meats consisted of a huge assortment that would make anyone call for a cheat day. Guests could assemble a plate adorned (or stacked) with prosciutto, polish sausage, salami, and salmon. Paired with wine, sangria, and whiskey from the various drink stations, the night fulfilled attendees’ desires to indulge their full palette.
The silent auction featured various items at different starting bid costs, ranging from essentials like boxes of juice and diapers to big-ticket items like a weed whacker and charcoal grill to resort packages from The Belize Collection and other recreational destinations. There were even one-of-a-kind artworks available for bid, including a handmade clay lantern that received several bids. Attendees bid on items throughout the night and had the option to outrightly buy a resort stay if they met the sales price. Also on sale were bottles of wine from Fine Taste sold in custom-made crates by The Belize Collection. When the auction closed, the biggest bid of the night was $3,300 for a three-night stay at Grand Caribe Belize.
Providing the night’s music was the ensemble from the Pallotti School of Music. Comprised of violinist Chelsea Thomspon, flutist Stepanie Coye, Violist Aneselma Jones, Cellist Philip De Shield, and Bassist Christopher De Shield, the ensemble entertained the night’s guests with Tchaikovsky’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’, ‘Fiddler on the Roof’, selections from The Sound of Music as well ragtime, and rumba staples, among others. Their presence ensured a complete sensorial experience that tickled the ear as well as the tongue with their set going late into the evening.
This fundraising effort is especially dear and personal to TBC’s managing partner Ian Lizarraga. He was the first recipient of pediatric orthopedic care from the program’s partner medical institution the Shriners Hospital when he was three years old. Following that treatment, his mom and aunt worked with Belizean physician Dr. John Waight to screen other children that might benefit from similar early interventions. With time, the Rotary Club of Belmopan took on the task of managing the Children’s Program.
Once Lizarraga took on his current role at TBC, he asked how the organization could aid the program, thus taking things full circle with TBC now providing the program’s major fundraiser’s catering. Since 2018, the Rotary Club of Belmopan and The Belize Collection have collaborated to bring Belizeans an unforgettable night hoping to inspire greater generosity from benefactors for years to come.
By the night’s end, the Rotary Club of Belmopan had raised three times more than its initial goal through its auction and ticket sales, outperforming their last efforts in every previous year. This will ensure that even more children receive crucial access to orthopedic care. Coordinating and sponsoring the ‘Wine & Cheese’ night is just one other way The Belize Collection looks to contribute to the betterment of Belizeans’ overall well-being.