Friday, February 04, 2011
By DIANE LEDERMAN
AMHERST - Chef Bill Collins, known as Chef Bill, is hoping to tantalize lovers this Valentine's Day with a romantic dinner for two that will spread the love to Haiti.
Collins is auctioning off a meal to be chosen by the winner and prepared in the winner's home Feb. 14 to benefit Reader to Reader's Hope of Haiti project build a school. Reader to Reader is working with Mount Holyoke College senior Haeinn Woo on the project.
Woo said they need to raise at least $3,000 to get the project going. They want to build the school in Meyotte, a small village in the town of Petionville, a suburb of Port Au Prince.
Woo was in the Dominican Republic when the earthquake struck last year and ended up going to Haiti to help. She's been back three times and is committed to seeing the school get built. She said there's little money for education from the government and little opportunity for youngsters to learn.
Woo said she values education. "As a Korean-American, my parents gave up careers (in Korea) to give me an education," she said.
David Mazor, executive director of Reader to Reader, heard about Woo and her work in Haiti and began working with her on the project. He said it's part of Reader to Reader's growing international reach. The organization donates books and computers to schools and promotes literacy in myriad ways.
Besides the dinner auction, Woo said students are holding an art auction and dinner at Mount Holyoke to raise money. The artwork will remain on display until Feb. 13 at the student gallery, Blanchard Campus Center at Mount Holyoke.
The auction ends Feb. 24 at a dinner.
Besides buying the land and the building, they need money for teachers and supplies.
Woo said they want to see the school be self-supporting eventually, and the idea is to make it sustainable with a farm, using micro-finance models.
Collins, who lives in Pelham, said he got involved because the couple in Salem who he normally cooks for on Valentine's Day decided not to hire him this year. He decided to offer his services for charity and has done some things for Reader to Reader before.
Collins will prepare a menu of the diners' choice in the couple's home. While such dinners usually cost $300, Collins said, "I'm not looking for somebody to get a bargain. I'm looking to get a bundle to Reader to Reader."
To bid on the dinner, visit www.chefbill.com. The auction ends Feb. 10. To learn more about Reader to Reader, visit http://www.reader toreader.org and to learn about Hope of Haiti visit http://www.hopeofhaiti.org