#atozchallenge | V is for Volunteering at the Chocolate Lovers’ Fling

I am addicted to chocolate. I thought I was doing a good thing when I gave up milk chocolate and switched to dark chocolate with all its well advertised health benefits. While I do think it was a good change, it gave me a false sense of healthy eating, and now I eat it everyday. Not most days. Every single day. It’s getting to be an issue.

With my obsession for chocolate, I’m always on the look out for events where I can enjoy chocolate deliciousness. The last few years I’ve kept an eye on the Chocolate Lovers’ Fling. This annual event is a fundraiser for the local nonprofit, SARSSM, Sexual Assault Response Services of Southern Maine. This year’s Chocolate Lovers’ Fling, which was held at the South Portland Marriott at Sable Oaks, was their 30th Annual event. It has some staying power. Clearly, I’m not the only person with a chocolate obsession.

The Mission Statement on the SARSSM website reads,

“Sexual Assault Response Services of Southern Maine shall develop and provide quality services to survivors of sexual assault and concerned others in York and Cumberland Counties who need assistance resolving issues related to sexual assault. SARSSM shall take a leadership role in encouraging a social climate in which sexual assault is unacceptable. SARSSM shall participate in community planning, develop community resources, and promote education and training programs relating to sexual assault.”

What could be better than finally going to this chocolate focused fundraising event? Volunteering! It’s a large fundraiser and they’re always looking for volunteers. I’d get to be part of the event and help a great cause.

I downloaded the volunteer application, filled in some basic contact information and anxiously read through the volunteer categories. Since my only experience as a waitress was older than the Chocolate Lovers’ Fling itself, that didn’t seem like a good fit but fortunately there were other areas that were. I checked off three of the six categories, scanned the completed application and e-mailed it back to the coordinator. A few days later I was an official chocolate greeter.

The Wednesday before the event, there was a volunteer meeting at the hotel. I headed out after work, and fortunately traffic was light. I live in Maine. Traffic is almost always light. I knew where the hotel was having been there years before for a wedding. I made my last turn as I approached the hotel, and realized in a panic that it was a club house and not my destination. I guess my memories of how to get to the hotel were a little fuzzy. I was lost. I hastily pulled into a parking spot, checked my phone for the time and knew I was going to be late.

When I finally arrived, I rushed into the hotel, looking around in all directions for any signs of where I should go next. I was not the first person to arrive in such a state and someone on the staff quickly directed me to the meeting room where they were already well into reviewing the basic volunteer information. I barely heard the rest of what was said as I was still decompressing from my late arrival. Fortunately, when they finished, they broke us out into our individual volunteer groups where we got details on our particular roles. We also went through a practice run of  how things would go the day of event. My role as a chocolate greeter seemed straight forward. I was looking forward to the event.

The day of the Chocolate Lovers’ Fling arrived. The only down side to being  a chocolate greeter is that you have to arrive early, well before the actual event, to help with the setup. It takes a lot for me to get someplace by 8:30 am on a weekend but somehow I rallied. Actually, I slept through my alarm but my husband woke me up so I still made it on-time.

We were a well staffed group and excited to greet our first chocolatier arrivals. Our role as greeters would be to assist the chocolatiers as they arrived, helping them to unload, setup and distribute their chocolates. It was not a hard job, but it did take a few arrivals before fully learning the ropes. It was fun to see what each chocolatier brought and how they set up and designed their tables to go with the under-the-sea theme of the event.

The gala is a sit down affair with servers delivering multiple courses of chocolate for tasting. Attendees vote on their favorites. Local chocolatiers, from York and Cumberland counties, compete for awards, including the prized People’s Choice award which this year was won by Christopher Hasting Confections for their Maine Sea Salt Caramel Bon Bon. There was also a silent auction featuring a range of donated items including jewelry, art, getaways, and not surprisingly, chocolate.

Once all the chocolatiers had arrived, my volunteer duties were over so I didn’t actually stay for the event although I was able to wander around a bit and check out the setup. When I walked into the function room, it was a sea of teal and white with each round table elegantly set awaiting the arrival of the chocolates to complete the scene. It was a lovely, festive affair.

While I didn’t get to taste the chocolates at the event, as a volunteer, we did get a box of chocolates with a sample from each of the participants to take home. We did our own little taste testing later that afternoon.

I really enjoyed my experience volunteering for the Chocolate Lovers’ Fling and hope to participate again in the future. Below is a list of all the amazing chocolatiers with links to their sites. They donated their time and chocolate creations to help make this a successful event.

Chocolatiers
Aprilla Cakes Christopher Hasting Confections Country Chocolates Dean’s Sweets

 

Dolce Vivian Home Sweet Home Bakeshop Izzy’s Cheesecakes Reilly’s Bakery

 

Southern Maine Community College Standard Baking Company Sunrise Corner Sue’s All Natural Homemade Needhams
Sweet Kisses Confections Vena’s Fizz House

Sexual Assault Response Services of Southern Maine
SARSSM P.O. Box 1371, Portland, ME 04104
Phone 1-800-313-9900 (24 Hour Crisis & Support Line)
Website SARSSM
Favorite Chocolate for a Cause

I’m participating in a Blogging A-Z Challenge for April 2016. I will be posting new content every day except Sundays. Each post is associated with a letter of the alphabet, starting with A and ending with Z. My theme for the challenge is Life in Maine, and each post will in some way relate to Maine. There are over 1500 other bloggers participating in the challenge. Click HERE to learn more.

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18 thoughts on “#atozchallenge | V is for Volunteering at the Chocolate Lovers’ Fling

    • Weekends in Maine says:

      I thought it was generous of them too! Chocolate food tours are becoming popular. I went on one in Seattle that was wonderful. Food tours in general are so much fun. The last time we went to London we did an East End Food Tour that was fantastic.

      Like

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