Update: What a Turner-out!

It didn’t take long to get a whole roomful of donors in support of Metadrasi, thanks in large part to Greece’s greatest advocate in Houston, Evan Turner. Evan graciously agreed to host a Greek wine-tasting fundraiser, providing not only his dynamic and passionate presentation on the wines and on Greek culture generally, but also all the wine itself and a tantalizing tasting plate. Thanks to the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management, Evan had the ideal location to preach his gospel of Greek wine and food: The Spec’s Food and Beverage Appreciation Laboratory, generously offered (along with able student servers) by the Hilton College in support of our fundraising for Metadrasi. Professor Chris Taylor, Director of the Beverage Management Program, co-hosted the event and facilitated the use of this amazing wine lab. The event couldn’t have gone off better.

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There’s an interesting parallel between Greek wine and Metadrasi. Greek wine has distinctive characters, splendid regional richness and variety, and has risen to great levels of achievement over the past years. It builds on a cultural base of viniculture and hospitality that reaches back over millennia. But it is not marketed as aggressively as the wines of France or California, and many Americans know little about it, other than the occasional experience of retsina. Similarly, Metadrasi is an organization doing amazing work across Greece, helping migrants in vital ways, based on centuries-old values of hospitality and humanitarian concern. Yet most people in America have as hard a time pronouncing Metadrasi as they do xinomavro or moschofilero. And it’s a shame, because one taste of moschofilero or one glimpse at the work that Metadrasi does, and you’ll be completely convinced of the value of these things.

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Evan did a wonderful job of relating how these topics are connected: Greek wine and cuisine are about social life and local commitments, not about simply monetizing a product for the sake of competing among the heady wines of the mainstream market. Similarly, what Greeks have accomplished for the sake of humanity in the past two years—at such a difficult time in their own national history—is about acting for the greater good, not for the cameras.

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So this event was a success in that we got a roomful of people excited about the work Metadrasi does, especially in their guardianship program for unaccompanied minors among these migrants. They were able to get a literal taste of Greece’s distinctive culture through its wine and food in the process, and appreciate the living legacy of a small nation that has had a huge impact on the western world. The money we raised is target specifically to an ad-h0c fund to meet the children’s needs, which range from the basics of nutrition and transportation to the equally vital realm of their legal needs in the asylum application or family reunification process.

We hope this is just the beginning of Houston’s support for Metadrasi—so go tell all and sundry!  The crowd funding campaign continues here. Let’s show our friends in Greece that the Bayou City not only sees what they do, but stands in solidarity with them.

And to thank Evan Turner for his support, all you have to do is drop by Helen Greek Food and Wine and enjoy yourself!

—Richard Armstrong

 

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