Some Other Place tasting

Some Other Place tasting

Prepare your taste buds for a treat! A Tasting for Some Other Place is coming soon, and area residents are invited to the event to enjoy the tasty tidbits offered by local restaurants, businesses and churches for $10. The food and drinks offered for the minimal charge is only a portion of the draw; in addition to the mouth-watering goodies provided, ticketholders also get to feel great about doing their part to provide funds for Some Other Place, whose mission is to help Beaumonters in need who have nowhere else to turn.

Some Other Place, a faith-based mission in Beaumont, is where people turn for emergency services in times of need and for ongoing programs like home-delivered meals, the Anne Rogers Vaxler Nutrition Center, Henry’s Place, the Back-to-School Program, the John Terry Moore Thanksgiving Store and the Christmas “Giving Tree” Program, all of which provide assistance at no charge. Founded in 1968 by the local religious community to address the unmet emergency needs of local residents, Some Other Place was created to give people looking for assistance somewhere to turn when they were told to go “some other place” by other entities from which they sought relief.

Some Other Place Executive Director Paula O’Neal said, in spite of selfless donations from members of the local religious community, civic organizations, businesses and individuals, more money is mandatory for the non-profit and the Tasting fundraiser is essential.

“With cuts in government programs and cuts in donations with money so tight right now, non-profits are really having to depend more and more on fundraisers,” says O’Neal. “It helps us keep our doors open.”

O’Neal said the idea for the annual fundraiser was conceived in 2002 when Some Other Place was struggling to meet a high demand for its services.

“Several years ago, donations just weren’t keeping up with the requests for assistance we were getting,” O’Neal recalls. “We decided we were going to have to bite the bullet and do a fundraiser. We had never done that before. Different organizations would do things for us, but as far as actually hosting a fundraiser ourselves, we had never done it. So we started in hopes that we would make $10,000. If we could make $10,000, that would be good.”

But attendance and the generosity of area residents exceeded the group’s expectations, quadrupled them, in fact, says O’Neal.

“We ended up making $40,000.”

O’Neal said so many people attended the first Tasting, held at the Harvest Club in 2002, they had to move to a larger venue the following year, the Beaumont Civic Center at 701 Main St.

“We walked into the Civic Center, and we thought there was no way we could ever fill it up, just no way,” remembers O’Neal. “And we did. Each year, our profits from the event have gotten higher and higher, primarily because most of what we have there is donated. The different groups that have booths, they donate their food, their manpower and everything, so our expenses are not that great. We are a giving community. Beaumont is more like a big town than a city. You find that towns are more community-minded and more touched by giving.”

O’Neal said summertime is generally “a very slow time for donations,” meaning the Tasting could not come at a better time to replenish Some Other Place’s coffers and allow them to continue to serve the community. Government funds and general donations only go so far to cover the $80,000 to $90,000 per month it costs to operate the non-profit and provide services locally. That is why the Tasting is so important.

“It provides for us about a month’s worth of our operating expenses and our services that we provide to the people to come,” estimates O’Neal.

Some Other Place’s executive director says all proceeds for the 2014 Tasting event will benefit the work of Some Other Place and the much-needed programs and services it provides.

Recently, Some Other’s Place’s Back-to-School Program provided school clothes and school supplies for about 1,000 Southeast Texas students, O’Neal reports. More than 100,000 meals are served to the hungry each year through the group’s soup kitchen. Henry’s Place is Some Other Place’s day center for homeless persons. At Henry’s Place, visitors can eat breakfast, do laundry, take a shower, and use the location’s phone number and address, an address being something homeless people cannot normally provide, although it is required by many government assistance programs. Henry’s Place, located at 1107 McFaddin Ave., is not an overnight facility, but offers comfort and safety for visitors throughout the day.

“For those who want to get off the streets and need some type of assistance to help them get off the streets, then we will do what we can to help them do that,” asserts O’Neal. “For those content with where they are, we are just a brief respite from the streets. It’s a place they can come to clean up, wash their clothes and get out of the heat, or cold, or mosquitoes.”

Some Other Place’s “no questions asked” soup kitchen provides both onsite meals and home-delivered meals.

“We also have an emergency service program for people who are needing food to take home to cook, clothing, help with medication or financial assistance with medication, utilities, rent, transportation – we never know one day to the next what someone is going to need help with. We do interview them to try to ascertain if there is a legitimate need and whether or not our help will make a difference in the situation; then, we will do what we can to try to help them.

The Tasting hosts upward of 60 food vendors, from restaurants to local businesses to churches, who offer bite-sized samples of chili, jambalaya, shrimp, breads, chips and dips, and sweets, too – cookies and strawberry shortcake – to name a few. With a ticket, tasters can sample an assortment of delectable delights and go back for more.

O’Neal encourages the attendance of the generous Southeast Texas community. Everyone is invited, and a ticket buys a night of food, fun and philanthropy.

“The tickets are only $10,” says O’Neal. “We try to make it affordable for everyone. This is an inexpensive way to come and enjoy an evening, as well as help with work that needs to be done in our community.”

Join O’Neal and the Some Other Place crew Aug. 19 at the Beaumont Civic Center. A Tasting for Some Other Place opens at 5 p.m. There will be free shuttle service to the Civic Center from First Methodist and St. Mark’s Episcopal Churches in downtown Beaumont. Tickets may be purchased in advance at Some Other Place, at 590 Center St. in Beaumont, most Beaumont churches and temples, the Beaumont Civic Center and Jason’s Deli. Call (409) 832-7976 for more information.