The Hampden Family Center is already benefiting from A Taste of Hampden, the annual fundraiser that takes place Thursday, Oct. 24.
In recent days, the family center, 1104 West 36th St., received an exterior face lift in anticipation of the event, with the community raising money for a new awning and volunteers painting the inside of the building.
"How nice is that?" marveled Lisa Ghinger, executive director of the center.
The center is benefiting in other ways too. Daniel Wylie, owner of the clothing store Sixteen Tons, is donating his services as a deejay at the event. The bar Zissimo's held a 50-50 raffle to raise money for the new awning. Merchants on The Avenue, West 36th Street, donated sidewalk sale proceeds.
Others helping raise money or donating services such as painting were Ravens Roost 110 in Hampden, volunteers from Zissimo's and students from Johns Hopkins University, Ghinger said.
Atomic Books' Eightbar will host a Taste of Hampden afterparty, and $1 from the sale of every drink will go to the family center, said Atomic Books co-owner Benn Ray.
Twenty three restaurants, including newcomers the Charmery, an ice cream parlor, the Art House, which specializes in artisan pizzas, and the Breathe Bookstore Cafe, are participating in A Taste of Hampden, compared to 20 last year, and more people are signed up than last year, too, Ghinger said. Other restaurants participating range from upscale eateries like the Food Market to Holy Frijoles and Frazier's on the Avenue, she said.
Tickets are $35 per person and all proceeds will go the 18-year-old Hampden Family Center, which offers everything from after-school programs to literacy classes for adults and emergency and benefits assistance programs for the needy.
The mission of the center, as stated on its website, http://www.hampdenfamilycenter.org, is "to enrich the lives of residents through education and professional support, and to encourage individual growth and community fellowship.
The community, traditionally plagued by high dropout rates, looks to the family center to help tutor, mentor and provide after-school activities for children and youths, and to provide social services such as energy assistance to families and senior citizens.
A Taste of Hampden raised about $9,000 last year and is one of the center's biggest fundraising events each year, along with Hats Off to Hampden in the spring.
This year, the center will be holding a raffle with the winner getting a free dinner cooked at his or her home by Chad Gauss of the Food Market and Robbin Haas of the restaurant Birroteca.
A Taste of Hampden runs from 6 to 9 p.m. Participating restaurants to date are 13.5% Wine Bar, Alchemy, Asian Taste, Birroteca, Breathe Bookstore Cafe, Cafe Hon, Common Ground, Corner BYOB, Daniela Pasta & Pastries, Fraizer's on The Avenue, Golden West Cafe, Grano, Holy Frijoles, KoDee's Cakes, Luigi's Italian Deli, Ma Petite Shoe, Rocket To Venus, Royal Farms, the Art House, the Charmery, the Food Market, the Wine Source and Woodberry Kitchen.
For more information about A Taste of Hampden, call 410-467-8710.