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C.A.F.E. Huntington seeks volunteers to coordinate dinners

Feb. 17, 2013 @ 10:44 PM

HUNTINGTON -- For the past 31/2 years, C.A.F.E. Huntington has been fortifying the local community arts scene with its monthly meals and mini-grants.

But its volunteer organizers now say that they are in desperate need of other volunteers to help run the once-a-month meal, or C.A.F.E. (Creative Arts Funding Endeavor) Huntington may cease to exist.

One of the group's founders, Bill Rawlinson, who brought the idea to a Create Huntington Chat 'n' Chew session after hearing an NPR piece about St. Louis SLOUP, said both he and fellow group founder Simone Kompanek are looking for someone new to coordinate the dinners, which for about the past year have taken place in the third-floor meeting room of the Cabell County Public Library in downtown Huntington.

A community leader and active volunteer with many groups, Rawlinson said that while he will maintain the website, they are looking for a few good folks to step in to make sure C.A.F.E. continues.

"I don't mind being that glue and giving it some continuity," Rawlinson said. "I can come to most of the dinners, and most of the time will be able to help with money collection and do the website. But we feel once the reins of power are handed over, someone can put their own touch on it. The idea is to keep the spirit of C.A.F.E. alive. We want that."

Whoever volunteers to take over for Kompanek would plan the dinner events by coordinating a location, by finding a volunteer (or a restaurant) willing to donate food, by communicating with artists with the creative projects that will be submitting proposals at the dinner and more.

Rawlinson said even though Kompanek became a new mom and took on other volunteer and work challenges, she managed to make sure C.A.F.E. happened monthly. Even when no on volunteered to cook, she would be hauling crock pots of homemade food up to the meeting room to make sure there was a meal.

For folks who have not been to a C.A.F.E. Huntington, the group began its third year in June 2012.

The arts-fueled dinners, which are cooked by volunteers, allow artists and community activists to pitch their idea to a roomful of folks who have paid $10 for a donated dinner. Artists present in hopes of gaining the collective money (anywhere from $280 to $720 so far) as well as gaining needed exposure and networking to get their often-fledging ideas off the ground.

And although it has been held at the library for about a year, C.A.F.E. has also roamed around the city, held in everything from the Cabell-Huntington Convention and Visitors Bureau to area churches, dance studios, restaurants (Tahona Grille), people's homes, as well as public parks such as McClelland Park or 27th Street Park, where C.A.F.E. began.

Rawlinson said they will not be having a C.A.F.E. in February, but will be having a meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28, in the lobby of the Frederick building at Create Huntington's informal public meetings called Chat 'n' Chew.

Rawlinson said several past winners have stepped forward to indicate they would like to help, but that they would like to have more volunteers step up to form a team to make sure it continues.

If you like the C.A.F.E. Huntington events and want to keep them happening and you can fulfill those requirements, email bill@cafehuntington.com by Tuesday, Feb. 26, or come to the Feb. 28 Chat 'n' Chew.

Follow H-D reporter Dave Lavender on Facebook or Twitter @DaveLavenderHD.

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