River Valley Senior Center Receives Placemaking Grant from SWMAR — It’s a FUDGE-RAISER!
Today’s communities struggle to do more with less, yet people everywhere yearn for spaces that are both beautiful and safe. The Lighter Quicker Cheaper (LQC) initiative taps the talents and ingenuity of local residents, business owners, and governmental officials to make low-cost, incremental changes to the community. These changes provide a solid foundation for change that can have powerful, lasting impact on community development.
The Southwestern Michigan Association of REALTORS (SWMAR) participates in providing matching funds for Lighter Quicker Cheaper (LQC) Initiatives. Jackie Shen, a famous Chicago chef, is one such community resource the Association has identified by awarding $5,000 in matching funds in support of her annual fudge drive. In 2022 the drive raised funds to support Harbor Country Rotary Club projects, River Valley Senior Center activities, and Southwest Michigan Meals on Wheels. Jackie supplies all the fudge and packaging for the drive, which she runs out of her restaurant, Jackie’s Café, located at 801 W Buffalo St., New Buffalo, MI 49117.
As the following reviews indicate, Jackie’s customer rave about the fare at her café. Her breakfast and lunch creations are so delicious, at least one customer wants to keep the secret to herself:
“Everything is just so amazing! The eggs are scrambled to perfection, thick blueberry French toast, homemade hash brown potatoes and delicious lemon curd. I thought I was in a Scottish B&B again! I wish I was able to eat more in one sitting! I have told everyone about this café reluctantly … I want it to be my secret!” — Facebook Review by Amber Godush
Jackie’s “Back Door” bakery is certainly not a secret, offering “decadent treats and mouthwatering desserts,” all topped off with a big dollop of “give back” to her community:
Jackie has been known to give her time, donations and food to non-profits in the Harbor Country Area. She has earned the title, “Queen of Fusion,” as she expertly combines French and Asian Cuisines, and is also known for her famous Chocolate Bag desert. — excerpts from https://jackieshencafe.com/
And all of this scrumptious cuisine is available in an inviting, personalized setting:
“I felt as if I was eating in Jackie’s home. Absolutely amazing food and it was brought to our table by the chef herself. You can feel the love she has for cooking as soon as you walk into the restaurant. We had the crepes, and two different versions of the Egg Benedict. After breakfast we headed to the back of the restaurant and got some delicious treats from the bakery. Jackie placed them in a Togo box for us explaining what each treat was. Highly recommend this restaurant if you are looking for food made with love.” — excerpt from Google Review by Local Guide Carley Young.
Along with her love of cooking, giving back has always been important to Jackie Shen. To support her community, Jackie created an annual fudge drive featuring the same melt-in-your-mouth fudge that she sells at her restaurant. Jackie provided all the fudge, packaging and location for the drive. In 2022 fudge sales reached $11,252. This was bolstered by $5,000 in matching funds provided by SWMAR, a $6,000 donation by the Hillary Bubb Endowment, and an $11,252 donation from the Nora Duffy Foundation. Through donors like these and the generosity of Dan Coffey and Traci Lauricella, two brokers from RE/MAX Harbor Country who contributed $500 each in matching funds, the drive raised a total of $28,504 for the community.
The River Valley Senior Center, the recipient of the $5,000 matching fund from SWMAR, serves its community by offering residents who are 60 years and older a range of educational, recreational, social, transportation, and referral services. At the center, senior residents may enjoy exercise classes, crafts, card games, quilting, crocheting, holiday events, and so much more. The Center not only offers residents a great place to enjoy community but also provides access and information to the multitude of services available to our seniors. The $5,000 check issued to the River Valley Senior Center in matching funds provided by SWMAR will assist the Center in continuing to provide needed services for area seniors.
Similarly, the Harbor Country Rotary Club, also a recipient of the drive, is a nonprofit group of volunteers who are dedicated to helping Harbor Country through targeted community service projects. The organization serves a broad area in Southwest Berrien County, from Browntown Road on the north to the Indiana state line on the south and Dayton Lake Road on the east to Lake Michigan on the west. This Rotary makes good on its pledge to support the community:
Since 2011 the Harbor Country Rotary Club has conducted hundreds of listening sessions with stakeholders from every part of Harbor Country. These sessions provide members with a better understanding of the needs, hopes, and dreams of the people who live and work in the area. Through those conversations, the Rotary has learned where to focus community service projects that will most benefit their community members. Over the years, they have supported many projects including: Annual mum and bulb sales, Pollinator project, Blessings in a Backpack, Exercise equipment in N.B. Park, Funding one book/one school, and so many more. They welcome collaboration and hope to partner with other individuals or groups seeking to help all in Harbor Country live healthy, happy lives. — excerpts from Harbor Country Rotary brochure
Meals on Wheels of Southwest Michigan was also a recipient of Jackie’s fudge drive. The entirety of the Nora Duffy Foundation donation was designated to support Meals on Wheels of Southwest Michigan and their mission to end senior hunger one meal at a time. This mission benefitted greatly from funds raised through Jackie’s drive. Chef Jackie Shen is also selling her recipe book East Meets West to benefit Meals on Wheels. Included is a great selection of delicious appetizers, soups, entrées, and desserts. For every $25 book purchase, Chef Jackie is donating $10 towards Meals on Wheels of Southwestern Michigan. Every $10 helps the program provide TWO meals for senior citizens.
The LQC matching funds initiative couldn’t have come at a better time. Previously, Jackie’s fudge drive was matched by the Larry Bubb Endowment.
“Bubb was a civic leader and community banker whose “unconventional lending practices” and “faith in the area and its people” helped open gateways for many Harbor Country residents, businesses and developers. He came to area in the early 1980s and became president of the Bank of Three Oaks. In 1991, he founded Alliance Bank, which he led until his death on June 27, 2000.” — excerpt from Harbor Country News https://www.harborcountry-news.com/features/larry-bubb-remembered-at-sculpture-ceremony/article_fed36816-6c5f-51d3-a139-a8ab48b0cf00.html
The Southwestern Michigan Association of REALTORS has stepped into a supportive role by providing Jackie Chen with a $5,000 LQC matching funds award for the River Valley Senior Center in an effort to support her annual, community-changing fudge drive. Together, we are making our community stronger.