Clients of Guma Esperanza, the domestic violence center being run by Karidat Social Services in the CNMI, were able to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal yesterday, courtesy of the Northern Marianas Technical Institute.
NMTI’s culinary arts program prepared and donated the Thanksgiving meals to Karidat last Tuesday and the spread included large pans of mashed potatoes, glazed carrots, stuffing, homemade cranberry sauce, and turkeys courtesy of Rep. Leila Staffler (D-Saipan).
Lauri Ogumoro, who is director of both Karidat and Guma Esperanza, said Tuesday that she had received a call from NMTI saying that they wanted to donate Thanksgiving meals to Karidat and its Guma Esperanza. She said that she, Karidat, and Guma Esperanza were “touched beyond belief.”
“It was really touching that they wanted to do that for the women and children at the shelter. We are touched beyond belief, and we’re so thankful that they thought of us. …It’s moments like this that we’re grateful to such a wonderful community that thinks of the less fortunate,” she said.
Staffler said that NMTI had also reached out to her and she was more than happy to contribute to the cause. “I’m always happy to find [ways] to help great organizations like Karidat and to find a way to give families another source of cheer and support in these hard times and in this holiday season,” she said.
Chef Ben Babauta Jr., who is NMTI’s student activities coordinator and culinary instructor, said the Thanksgiving donation was a collective effort that involved him, fellow culinary instructor chef Inas Hocog, and seven culinary students.
Babauta also said that, as student activities coordinator, one of his goals is to showcase NMTI students while also giving them opportunities to give back to the community.
With the culinary students currently learning about vegetables, starches, and protein, donating Thanksgiving meals to Karidat and Guma Esperanza was a great opportunity for all involved.
“We’re teaching [our culinary arts students] vegetables, starches, and protein, and because it’s the season of giving, [this was] a great opportunity for us to showcase what our students have learned [and] to give back to the community,” said Babauta.
He added that it relatively did not take too long to make all the food, thanks to “good teamwork.” It took an hour and a half of prep work on Monday night and two and a half hours of cooking on Tuesday.