LACONIA — On March 31, for the 29th time, Altrusa International of Laconia will host the Taste of the Lakes Region, an annual event where 20 of the region’s most creative food and beverage producers will offer a sample of their products for ticketholders to enjoy. The event serves as a kind of showcase for the culinary talent at work in the communities of central New Hampshire.
But the event has another purpose as well. It’s the principal fundraiser for the local Altrusa club and, as such, each ticket purchase furthers the service organization’s efforts to provide scholarships to local students and to promote literacy.
“Everything we do goes back to the community and we are all in the community,” said club member Nancy LeRoy.
“And the money we take in stays here,” added club member Carla Peterson.
Altrusa offers up to four scholarships each year, for students studying medicine, education, business or athletics.
Altrusa has provided book nooks for a local homeless shelter and for the HealthFirst Family Care Center, has put up a “little library” where anyone can take a book. Members have also provided large-print books to nursing homes and support packages for new mothers. The club has also helped build custom bookshelves at the New Hampshire Veterans Home, where residents in wheelchairs have trouble reaching conventional shelving.
All this work is done thanks to proceeds from the Taste of the Lakes Region, and by time volunteered by club members – which Altrusa would like to have more of.
Membership is low, said Marcia Dionne, Altrusa member. “We’d like more (members), we need more.”
Ideal candidates for Altrusa are people who would like a closer connection to their neighbors, said LeRoy. “Somebody who has an interest in their community, in learning about the community, in doing volunteer work,” she said.
Laconia Altrusa meets at 5:30 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month at the Woodside building of the Taylor Community. Each meeting features a guest speaker, so that members leave the meeting more informed about their community.
“It’s a diverse group, there’s no way that we would have gotten together otherwise,” LeRoy said.
“We welcome anyone,” said Peterson.