‘Seasons of Italy’ – chefs cook for kids

Published Apr 3, 2013 at 10:38 am (Updated Apr 3, 2013 at 10:38 am)

Spring has been struggling to bring warm temps to western Pennsylvania. The cold may be lingering, but our spirits are warm. Men and women all around the South Hills look forward to time spent with friends and associates, no matter what the weather. And if the evening includes helping those in need, especially if it means lessening the suffering of children, we need no better reason. So often we want to help, but we aren’t sure, as individuals, how to make a difference.

For several years, CASA for Kids, Inc. of Washington County (Court Appointed Special Advocates) has sponsored Chefs for CASA, a great dinner and fun-filled evening. This year’s celebration of local chefs will begin at 6:30 p.m. April 26 at Bella Sera in Canonsburg. “Seasons of Italy” is this year’s theme. The dinner menu is planned to include sought-after specialties of favorite local chefs: Michael Passalacqua of Angelo’s Restaurant, Jason Capps and Giuseppe DiGristina of Bella Sera, Nick and Sandra Ambeliotis of Mediterra Bakehouse, Joe D’Amico of Franco’s Trattoria, Domenica Merante of Merante Brothers and Tim and Denise Warne of Bartram House Bakery.

Sicily-born Giuseppe DiGristina, executive chef at Bella Sera, will draw guests to the extensive antipasto and hors d’oeuvres table and then onto the Chinese auction. Tables will be filled with top-notch prizes, generously donated by local merchants.

Lucky winners will take home any number of popular items, such as an overnight stay at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, Sarris Candy and cupcake-making baskets and certificates for golf clubs, salons and restaurants, all valued at $100 or more. A real crowd pleaser will be a money tree raffle featuring lottery tickets and various gift cards.

Anticipation will grow for Domenica Merante’s handmade asparagus ravioli with a pancetta and pea basil cream sauce along with a roasted beet and goat cheese salad topped with a drizzle of champagne vinaigrette. Franco’s will once more provide meatballs, a local favorite prepared in authentic Italian style.

Mediterra’s rustic dinner breads will complement each course, but be sure to save room for a surprise dessert created by bakers at Bartram House.

Once more WTAE-TV’s Michelle Wright will be honorary chair and mistress of ceremonies. Well-known American Idol contestant Adam Brock & The Jazz Trio will return to the CASA stage.

“CASA advocates give a voice to the most vulnerable members in our community, the abused and neglected children in the Washington County court system,” said Vivian C. Osowski, executive director, CASA for Kids, Inc. “A CASA volunteer can help ensure that a child has a safe forever home.”

Tickets to this community event are $85. Proceeds will give new life to abused and neglected Washington County children, without regard to ethnic identity or religious beliefs. To help a child, call 724-228-0414.


Thirty-five trained CASA for Kids, Inc. volunteers advocate for 94 children in Washington County. Judge Katherine B. Emery will swear in three additional volunteers at the Washington County Courthouse on April 5. Twenty-three children currently await advocates to speak on their behalf.

Volunteers work in tandem with Children and Youth Services, multiple service providers, medical professionals, schools, attorneys and the court system. They review records, research information and talk with everyone involved in each child’s life. Most importantly, time is taken to develop a relationship with each child. CASA advocates focus on only one family at a time.

To maintain quality advocacy in Washington County, CASA estimates the cost to be $1,000 per child.

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