WLW-Pairingfoodwineandseniors_D829-SCLogo_thumbOne reason I am happy to write this particular column is that I love good food, good wine . . . and seniors.

My professional life revolves around boomers and seniors, but I’ve been a foodie since I was a kid.

From age 10 until I left for college, I picked recipes and cooked dinner for my family several nights a week. Kudos to my mom and dad for surviving the early years of pear salads shaped like bunny rabbits and hot dogs on a stick.

It’s that love of food that gets me excited this time of year because just around the corner is the Ultimate Dining Event, which brings together great food and wine and the support of seniors in our community.

Every August my husband, friends and I enjoy signature dishes from the best local chefs. This year the featured chefs serving their specialties will be from The Grill on the Alley, Rustico, The Westlake Inn, Tierra Sur and the Hyatt Westlake Plaza.

Then there’s the added variety of delicacies from caterers like May’s Kitchen, desserts from the student chefs at Let’s Get Cookin’, first-class fare from the executive chef at University Village Thousand Oaks and specialties from the private North Ranch Country Club.

Wine flows the entire evening, beginning with champagne upon arrival and ending with a special dessert wine. This year’s featured wines include those from Opolo Vineyards, Wedell Cellars, Herzog Winery, Stolpman Vineyards and Ventura Limoncello.

The Ultimate Dining Event benefits Senior Concerns, a local nonprofit that serves frail and needy seniors and their families.

My husband and I became acquainted with this organization about eight years ago, when we “adopted” our elderly neighbors, Fred and Hildy.

When Fred, who was Hildy’s full-time caregiver, had a stroke, we had no idea where to turn. Fred was to be in the hospital for two weeks and then on to rehab, and Hildy, who used a wheelchair, would be in our care.

My husband and I could never have provided Fred and Hildy the kind of care and support they deserved without the guidance of Senior Concerns.

Hildy and Fred passed away a few years ago, but our experience with Senior Concerns lives on, especially at the Ultimate Dining Event each year.

While sampling and sipping, we wind our way through the silent auction, which includes a great selection of wines, gift baskets and tickets to special events and venues such as the Hollywood Bowl, but my favorite event of the evening is the live auction.

Every year during the live auction we hear new stories of how aging loved ones’ lives were improved as a result of the programs and services offered by Senor Concerns.

At this point in the auction program, magic happens.

Hearts open to families struggling to care for a parent who can no longer live alone; tears flow when a wife describes the insurmountable task of caring for a husband who doesn’t even recognize her, and a sense of gratitude emerges that one organization exists to serve those needs in our community.

Whether we are struggling with aging ourselves or caring for an aging loved one, all of us can use help in that journey. Through the generous support of our community, Senior Concerns is there to meet that need.

The Ultimate Dining Event is Sun., Aug. 7 at the Hyatt Westlake Plaza. To learn more, go towww.seniorconcerns.org.


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