Artists Giving Back Event Eyed

BERLIN – It all started with a mural.

Now, committee members of the Berlin Maryland Arts and Entertainment District are working with members of St. Paul United Methodist Church to provide underprivileged residents with a hot, holiday meal in an event titled Artists Giving Back.

Earlier this year, members of the group partnered with second and third-graders at Buckingham Elementary School and local artist Jon Donato to create a mural for the Visitor’s Center.

But member Robin Tomaselli, owner of Baked Dessert Café and Gallery in Berlin, said the project inspired her and the group to provide more than just art for some of these children.

“It became evident that a lot of people, including myself, didn’t realize the people in this area who are hungry,” she said. “Many of which are children. When they are off of school for an extended break, there is anxiety there, especially during the holidays. We wanted to do something.”

Since then, committee members Tomaselli, Heather Layton, Stephanie Fowler, Anna Mullis and Patricia Gregorio and partnering restaurants and artisans have reached out to community members across the Route 113 divide to feed the hungry Nov. 29, on Giving Tuesday.

“Whether it’s a perception or it’s very real, many do not feel that this part of Berlin is a part of their community,” Tomaselli said. “We want to make it our responsibility to lessen that divide.”

Nine eating establishments, three shops and two artisans to the West of Route 113 are currently working with hospitality ministry leader Patrick Henry of St. Paul to provide a venue, food, paper products and donations for the day.

Henry, who leads a men’s ministry at the church, said he recognized the community’s need after a successful soup and sandwich event earlier in the year.

“There are people out there with a real need,” he said. “We want to provide a bit of a helping hand.”

With the approval of the church’s leadership, the district’s members will use St. Paul’s kitchen and dining hall, and their services, to host the event at the church’s Flower Street location from 2-5 p.m.

Tomaselli said the organization hopes to feed between 150 to 200 community members that day and will not be policing the doors.

To cater to the community’s neediest, district members have enlisted the help of Worcester Youth and Family Services to spread the word.

“It is our mentality and hope that people in need are being fed,” Tomaselli said. “For everyone else, it lands on them to decide.”

The restaurants will provide: turkey, ham, green bean casserole, stuffing, potatoes, macaroni n’ cheese, bread, coffee and desserts for the event.

In addition to dine-in services, the group will also provide carry-out and delivery services for those who are homebound.

Local artists Mark Huey and Holden Becker will donate proceeds from their art to offset the costs of the event. Their paintings and glass ornaments will be on sale at Baked Dessert Café and Bungalow Love. Any leftover money from the event will go to local food pantries and meal programs.

“I’m really proud of the people that are partnering to make a difference,” Tomaselli said. “Everyone has stepped up to the plate in a big way.”

For more information on the event, or to view the list of participating businesses, visit the Berlin Maryland Arts and Entertainment Facebook page, or contact Robin Tomaselli at 410-641-1800 and [email protected].

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.