Article by Ana Fragoso
During a week when our country is debating impeachment hearings, and the 54th Super Bowl, several local organizations put all differences aside and came together to connect with the community. Between long Senate hearings, football bets, and the half time entertainment show, it was good to see people focus on something that will make a positive impact locally.
On Wednesday, January 29th, Allied Kitchen & Bath, an Oakland Park business of 36 years, opened their beautiful showroom to host The United Way of Broward County and OAD Healthcare’s – Master Chef Kitchen Cook-off fundraiser. If you were lucky enough to be in attendance, you’d know it was as much as a “friend-raiser” as it was about the money. Bringing big names from several NFL teams, Veterans, local community leaders, and a stadiums worth of energy together, everyone felt like a celebrity.
Lenore Nolan Ryan interviewing the guest chef contestants.
Military Veterans and NFL Players Team Up for a Good Cause
This cook-off teamed up Military Veterans with NFL players in a cooking competition. Chef Ray of Publix Groceries supplied the ingredients and helped coach the teams along the way, while Lenore Nolan Ryan (local celebrity chef and cooking school owner) provided guests with an amazing array of finger foods, interviewed all the contestants and emceed the competition herself. After all the introductions, and sports-mans like hand shake was had between the teams, it was GAME ON!
For the next 30 minutes there was slicing, dicing, seasoning, cooking, and collaboration to see who would have the best plate. Although the competition and the participants were hot, everyone was having fun, even taking a photo holding up their hands to show they still had their fingers attached! Despite the fun, there could only be one winner, and the scrimmage between the two teams was fun to watch. So here is a little information on the agencies and people that made this event happen.
Chef Ray, of Publix Groceries, supplied the ingredients and helped coach the teams.
Putting Efforts to Make a Difference
Bill, David, Joe and Robert Feinberg are the four charismatic brothers of Allied and Bath Kitchen. Along with their amazing staff, they not only have one of the most luxurious kitchen and bath showrooms in town, but they are also very involved in the community and making a difference. Among the many organizations they support, one small example of this is the positive messages on their road side message board at their Oakland Park Boulevard location. The entire team has a great energy and although they are not all related, they feel like family.
The United Way of Broward County is currently celebrating its 80th anniversary in the community. Many of their staff were there to celebrate and lent a hand wherever possible. Their leader and CEO, Kathleen Cannon was in great spirits talking to the crowd about the mission of the night and cheering on the contestants. It was obvious this team works hard and plays hard to make a difference in the community.
Replacing Uniforms With Aprons
Mission United was created in 2013 by the United Way to support US military service members, veterans and their families in Broward County by helping them acclimate to civilian life and connecting them with the services they need. Focus areas include: employment services, education, health, legal and financial assistance and housing support.
The veteran chefs had a strong defense and it was obvious they knew their way around the kitchen, slicing, seasoning and turning up the heat. This team consisted of: Alex Duran, Orlando Abreu, Brian Thompson, Ryan Bancroft, Brian Thornsberry, Diego Llanes, Gregg Francis and Helbert Asprilla. These men brought their “A” game and represented the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. It was obvious the men out of uniform were having fun making some incredibly delicious food to be judged.
Game on! Veterans and NFL players shake hands before competition begins.
OAD is the brainchild of its Founder/CEO Mercedes Dericho, a military veteran and her fiancée NFL player, Kenneth Ladler the organizations COO. Both who have dealt with anxiety issues of their own, thought there had to be another way to help people in need. Unfortunately mental health is still a taboo subject to many, even though 1 in 5 people are diagnosed with a form of mental illness at some point in their life.
OAD was created to help Veterans, first responders, the homeless, and low income individuals diagnosed with mental health and substance abuse impairments. They provide services in mental health, substance abuse, primary care, anger management, creative art therapies, and holistic care options.
Kenneth Ladler and Mercedes Dericho, of OAD Healthcare, talk about mental health issues.
The Eat to Play Foundation creates a fun space for professional athletes to volunteer their time and get to know the communities that admire them the most. That is exactly what the NFL players participating in the cook off were doing. Attendees of this fun event got to rub elbows and even taste the creations of the player such as Kenny Ladler, Quinton Dunbar and Kayvon Webster of the Washington Red Skins, Deon Lacey of the Miami Dolphins, Jaylen Watkins of the LA Chargers, Victor Salak of the Buffalo Bills, Ronald Zamort from the NY Giants, Earl Wolfe of the Philadelphia Eagles, and former Miami Dolphin Nolan Carroll. All brought their best game to the kitchen table to woo the judges: Kip Hunter of Kip Hunter Marketing, Bill Feinberg the president of Allied Kitchen & Bath, and Tracey Holmes Director of the United Way World Wide.
Recovery Unplugged was created to help those with substance abuse issues get help with their recovery through music. Barry Reiman, Psy.D. was on hand to share their program and new ways to look at treatment with guests. Combining traditional elements like detox and counseling with innovative musical therapy techniques, they help people reclaim their lives from substance abuse. With slogans such as “Your voice is louder than addiction”, “Music is our medicine”, and “Join the party sober movement” it’s obvious these programs are making a difference across the country.
With over 150 people in attendance it was a night to be remembered. In the end the veteran’s team was victorious, but between the beautiful location, great music, savory smells, delicious food, laughter, great connections and money raised, everyone came out a winner!