More than 200 guests were wined and dined during the recent Hibiscus Children’s Center’s Wine & Dine Taste of Australia at the Grand Harbor Club to benefit the Vero Beach-based Hibiscus Village. Happily, there was no jet leg involved during this culinary adventure, which took gourmands on a trip Down Under, pairing the flavors of Australia’s dishes with its wines.
“The Hibiscus Indian River Guild has planned another terrific event tonight,” said Matt Markley, Hibiscus CEO. “It’s a wonderful evening featuring great food and wine, but most importantly, our supporters come together to help ensure the youth are receiving the critical services they need to succeed – mental health counseling, medical and dental, educational and GED services and career planning. Hibiscus is grateful to our volunteers and supporters for helping our youth have a brighter future.”
Guests were greeted with a friendly “G’day mate!” as Outback Aussie-attired attendants welcomed them to take a ‘walkabout’ through silent-auction items geographically arranged in Perth, Melbourne and the Great Barrier Reef.
Koalas, kangaroos and crocodiles were on hand, lending an authentic flare, and tables were adorned with Aboriginal prints painstakingly matched to floating candles. And Charter High School students performed throughout the evening, adding light music to the ambiance.
Guests ate their way from one delicious station to the next in a progressive tasting of Australian fare such as beef- and pork-wrapped pastries with vegemite, an Aussie favorite made famous by the Men at Work song “Down Under.”
Also on the menu: a tasty barramundi fillet [Asian sea bass], roasted Peri-Peri quail, Australian lamb chops and a red berry pavlova for those with a sweet tooth – all paired with wines meant to enhance the flavors of each authentic offering.
Event proceeds support the mission of Hibiscus, which is celebrating its 35th anniversary of helping to improve the lives of abused, abandoned and neglected children and teens.
At the Vero Beach facility, more than 1,000 youth, ages 13 through 17, have received the medical, educational and mental health counseling needed to move beyond their trauma. In addition to providing a long-term residence in the 40-bed group home environment, Hibiscus offers career preparation and training, including culinary and graphic design, and other life skills training.
“We appreciate your renewed commitment to Hibiscus Children’s Center,” said Markley. “Because of your generosity, if a child is removed from their home tonight because of abuse or neglect and there’s no family member or friend to step forward to take them in, they will come to Hibiscus, and they will always have a home. Hibiscus never closes. Our unofficial motto is every child, every day for a better tomorrow.”
For information, visit hibiscuschildrenscenter.org.