By KATHLEEN SHAW
Daily News-Record 10/4/19
HARRISONBURG — The crabs are boiling and wine bottles frothing in preparation for the Harrisonburg Seafood Festival tonight at Bluestone Vineyard.
For the second year in a row, the Shenandoah Valley Builders Association hosts an evening of fine dining and live music to raise funds for the Central Valley Habitat for Humanity.
Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit organization that works with displaced families to secure safer and more stable housing opportunities. David Wenger, executive director for the local HFH, said the fundraising event allows the organization to help families struggling through difficult times, which amounts overall as an investment in a stronger community.
“[Better housing] often adds an emotional, social, economic benefit to them that allows them to be more healthy and stable individuals, not only within their own home, but within the communities where they’re living,” Wenger said.
The now sold- out event is a means to enjoy the company of neighbors, but for many, it is also a venue to establish stronger relationships. Chris Hansen, a local musician who will provide entertainment for the evening, attended last year’s event as a patron and said while the food was his favorite part, it was also a great opportunity to network.
“It was packed. I got to meet a lot of folks, and I was able to make a lot of business connections actually, too,” Hansen said.
Todd Schlabach, an acoustic performer raised in Harrisonburg but now based in Dayton, will also play music for guests at the winery.
Zack Snell, president of the Shenandoah Valley Builders Association, said collaborating with HFH to provide financial support for residents in the area reflects the heart of the association.
“Our mission is to keep housing affordable, and we thought that it would be a good fundraiser to help them with much- needed funds. We’re always looking into ways that we can give back, and you know, it just makes sense to get back to somebody who is serving the same mission as we are trying to provide,” Snell said.
Wenger said the funds raised from the event will leave a positive lasting influence on the region.
“The ripple effect of supporting families is that they are able to become better community members. I think the ramifications are far- reaching, and there’s positives for community, families and neighbors,” Wenger said.
Steamed crab legs, shrimp and mussels are on the menu with fried oysters and grilled salmon, catered by Puttin’ on the Ritz.
“Good food, good folks to talk with and all in the name of supporting community and families,” Wenger said. “That’s just a win-win for everybody.”