As live Hawaiian music plays softly in the background, the smell of slow-roasted pork and pineapple wafts through the dining room. Catholic Charities staff personally greets each guest who walks through. They know everyone by name. Better still, they know their stories. They ask about their grandchildren and their families near or far.
The men are wearing Hawaiian shirts. Many of the women don leis. When it comes time to visit the photobooth, the grass skirts, oversized sunglasses and straw hats come out, too. This is Catholic Charities Senior Services Luau Lunch and it’s a packed house. Throughout the afternoon, food is served, conversation is shared, and men and women hit the dancefloor – even those with wheelchairs and canes.
The seniors look forward to days like this for many reasons but mostly because it’s a time for them to see their friends. For seniors without family nearby, their golden years can be lonely. But thanks to Catholic Charities, they’re filled with life.
The luau, like many of our senior events in Lake County, is hosted at Maravela’s Banquets & Catering. Since 1996, Maravela’s has partnered with Catholic Charities for senior meal service. In addition to the Luau, Maravela’s also hosts and caters the Meals on Wheels Dinner Dance fundraiser at no cost to Catholic Charities and is our provider for all the Meals on Wheels meals that are delivered to Lake County seniors in need.
Not only is Maravela’s the most competitive pricing for Catholic Charities services year after year, said Barbara Andress, Catholic Charities Nutrition Director for Lake County Senior Services, the quality of the food is exceptional – and the seniors take note.
“Many of our seniors tell us they look forward to the meals because it’s food you would sit down and eat with your family,” said Marla Harris, Senior Services Department Director. “Maravela’s has been willing to work with us and identify more extensive options. Our food is fresh-cooked every day and goes out hot.”
Lorenzo and Adolfo Martinez, who worked at Maravela’s for more than 15 years, recently bought the business from the Maravela family. Lorenzo said it means a lot to his family to continue the Maravela’s tradition of giving back to Catholic Charities.
“We like to help as much as we can,” he said. “We know Catholic Charities is helping people in our community and anything we can do, we bring to them, and know it will be well-appreciated in the community.”