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’Skins, Potoatoes To Aid Homeless

Birchmere hosts 4th Annual Carpenter's Shelter Cook-off.

It's an interesting recipe: blending some of the finest chefs from 22 area restaurants with a collection of self-proclaimed culinary specialists.

The result is the 4th Annual Carpenter's Shelter Cook-off, scheduled for Sunday, April 30, at The Birchmere (3701 Mount Vernon Ave.) from noon to 3 p.m. "We encourage the restaurants to prepare dishes that we can in-turn prepare later at the shelter. We hope to raise approximate $75,000 this year which is more than double the $30,000 we raise the first year of the cook-off," said Alison DeCourcey, director, Development & Street Alliances.

Joining the professional food preparation cadre for the shelter's annual fundraiser, presented by Freddie Mac, will be former Redskins Mark Moseley and Brian Mitchell; long time White House correspondent Helen Thomas; Interagency Council on Homelessness, executive director, Philip Mangano; Alexandria Mayor William D. Euille; and U.S. Rep. James P. Moran (D-8).

"I am thrilled that so many restaurants and dozens of corporate sponsors are participating with us to raise critical funds that will help Carpenter's end, not accommodate, homelessness," said Fran Becker, executive director, Carpenter's Shelter.

"We hope the community will join us for this casual, family-oriented afternoon of dining on delectable creations in support of homeless and formerly homeless families," she said.

The event has traditionally drawn approximately 400 attendees, according to DeCourcey.

Returning this year are last year's People's Choice and Kid's Choice Award winners, Simply Fish and Hollin Hall Pastry Shop, respectively. Coffee will be provided by Misha's.

Other establishments providing fare will be 100 King Restaurant, A la Lucia, Asian Bistro, Del Merel Grille, Dishes of India, Evening Star Cafe/Rustico/Vermillion, FireFlies, Fresh Start Catering, Jaleo, Kabob Palace, Majestic Cafe, Stardust, Union Street Public House, Mango Mike's/Ramparts, RT's/Warehouse/Wharf Restaurants, and The Birchmere.

In addition to the array of food, participants will be treated to music by The Melonheads, a live auction, children's games, and a souvenir cookbook. There will also be cooking demonstrations, face painting and an air guitar contest.

TICKETS FOR THE EVENT cost $35 per adult and $10 per child, ages six to 17. Children five and under are free. Tickets may be purchased at the door, by calling 703-548-7500, Ext. 204, or online at www.carpentersshelter.org.

As Northern Virginia's largest homeless program, Carpenter's Shelter serves more than 1,300 homeless or formerly homeless families, children and adults each year. Proceeds from the cook-off goes toward Carpenter's Transition Services Programs.

"Carpenter's Shelter is stopping homelessness one family at a time by embracing a holistic approach of serving the needs of children and families as they transition back into community living, so that they will never need to call a shelter "home" again," according to Becker.

Located at 930 N. Henry St., Alexandria, Carpenter's Shelter operates five interrelated programs: A Temporary Residential Shelter that includes case management, educational and family services; David's Place, a daytime drop-in shelter for chronically homeless adults; an overnight Hypothermia Shelter; an Aftercare program for shelter graduates transitioning back into the community; and Transitional Housing, providing long-term apartment living for shelter graduates.