Habitat hosts annual brunch
By Katie Kocijanski
CHATHAM VILLAGE— The Blue Plate Restaurant was packed to maximum capacity for the annual Columbia County Habitat for Humanity brunch on Sunday morning.
The crowd of more than 80 people feasted on brunch food while singer and Tony-nominated composer and lyricist Jim Wann took the stage for the first time at the Blue Plate.
“The Blue Plate has been our lucky charm since 2007,” said Brenda Adams, executive director for the organization. The Blue Plate’s owner Judy Grunberg has a special connection to the organization. Her husband, Paul, was one of the original founders of the housing initiative 21 years ago. The event served as Janis Smythe’s last event in the board president position. After three years of service, she is stepping down but will remain on the board.
“This is the best turn out we’ve had this year,” said Smythe. She called her time as president an incredible experience.
Smythe made the connection to Wann for the brunch. Wann and Smythe have known each other since the 1980s. She had first seen him in the play “Pump Boys and Dinettes.” She and her late husband had owned a jingle house and worked with Wann. He wrote a couple of jingles for them. It was last October when Smythe and Wann ran into each other at Club Helsinki and she convinced him to perform at the brunch. “It’s a great organization and cause,” said Wann. “I said yes instantly. I have a lot of respect for Janis and the organization.” Wann’s songs centered around standards and folk music, including the classic Pete Seeger song “If I Had a Hammer.”
Adams and Smythe spoke after Wann’s set. Smythe gave a heartfelt speech thanking guests for all of their support for the organization. In addition to thanking Adams, she praised fellow board members Christina Schober and vice president Sara McWilliams for all of their hard work.
Adams announced Habitat’s 2014 project location. This year they have acquired property on Columbia Street in Hudson.
Habitat hopes to begin site preparation for at least two houses this coming May and complete construction by February 2015.
For more information about the organization visit www.columbiacountyhabitat.org.