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Sweet & Savory 2017


Save the Date for April 27th, 2017! 

SC State Museum- Planetarium Lobby, 301 Gervais St., Columbia, SC 29201 6:00-9:00 PM

Help us celebrate 40 years of service at Sweet & Savory! Our annual chef's competition is the only event where you can find sweet treats and savory hors d'oeurves from the Midland's most talented chefs! Join us for a night of tasty treats, live music, and friendly competition. Let your inner foodie out and be the judge - vote for your favorite sweet and savory dish!


Tickets are $40 for individuals or $75 for couples. You can purchase tickets at the door or online. To purchase individual tickets click here. To purchase couples tickets click here.

Attire is everything from business attire to cocktail dresses, suits to khakis & polos.


About Palmetto Place

Palmetto Place has cared for more than 7,000 children and teens in the last 40 years. We are a safe haven for teens who find themselves living on the streets with no one to turn to and children who have been abused or neglected. We provide love and support and give our residents an opportunity for a brighter future. Despite the tragic stories, our home is filled with the laughter of new friendships. It's where teens learn to drive, get their first job, and go prom. It's where kids make the honor roll, play in the park and have the chance to just be a kid. Palmetto Place is home and family for many of the state's most vulnerable children and teens.

By attending Sweet & Savory, you're showing these kids the community they live in cares about them. You're showing them hope for a brighter future. Help us celebrate the last 40 years and 7,000 children and teens who called Palmetto Place home, and help us look forward to new possibilities and the next 7,000 children to call our house home.


Chef Lawrence Wright, BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina- Anson Mills Carolina Gold Rice Grits Cakes, Braised Heritage Farms Cheshire Pork Cheeks, Charred Tomatillo, Pickled Sweet Corn

Chef Vinnie Livoti, BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina - Leg of Lamb over Crunchy Potato Cake

Chef Ben Perzan and Chef Arie Shenkar, the Mediterranean Tea Room - TBD

Chef Dave Grillo, Cantina 76- Braised Beef Short Rib Mini Taco topped with Fried Garlic Aioli and Pickled Red Onions

Chef Dave Grillo, Za's Brick Oven Pizza- Mini French Silk Pie

Chef Charlie Young, - BBQ Sliders and Slaw

Chef Yasmeen Bull and Chef Brenda Perry, Southern Foodservice Management - Fried Baby Back Ribs over Oriental Slaw

Chef Robert Stegall-Smith, Performance Foodservice Florence - Salted Caramel Truffles and Palmetto State Pork Belly

Will Lacey, Savvy Foods- TBD

If you are a chef interested in competing in Sweet & Savory please email for more information.


Gold Sponsors:





Chef Station Sponsors: 





Bronze Sponsors:

Hood Construction

Bar Sponsor: 

Sowell Gray

Haynsworth Sinkler and Boyd, P.A.


Comer Distributing Logo

Comer Distributing Company, founded 1971, in Rock Hill, SC by H. Leon Comer Sr.  Our initial products were from Jos. Schlitz Brewing Co., but over the 45 years in business several other major domestic, imported, and craft brands have been added to the portfolio, along with additional territories.  Servicing several counties in the Upstate and Midlands, Comer Distributing takes great pride in service and excellence, and in exceeding all expectations of our customers and suppliers.


Topper’s Rhum- Locally Owned and Imported into the USA - Handmade in St. Maarten -  The World’s Best Tasting, Award Winning, Premium Rhum.


Banner Sponsors: 

First Citizens Bank


Our events are nothing without our sponsors. If you are interested in sponsoring this event please email for more information.

Our musical guests, Not Even Brothers, is Pat Phillips and Guy Workman. Their driving acoustic guitars, tight harmonies and unusual mix or original songs and obscure classics has set them apart from other “Top 40” style bands. They know when to be soft and mellow with acoustic guitar and flute or drive the dance floor with full percussion, LED Lighting, rhythm and lead guitars. For more info on Not Even Brothers visit:

Not Even Brothers Band

Special Guest Judges:

Jacquelyn McHugh - Jacquelyn is the owner and Editor-in-Chief of Edible Charleston & Edible Columbia. She received her degrees in Sports Medicine & Nutrition, all the while spending almost 10 years in the food & beverage industry. Her experience in Hospitality and Wellness paved the way for her to ‘make the world a better place’ through food and education. As a mother of two young boys, sharing the importance of sustainability and wholesome food has become her priority, and through Edible she embraces the opportunity to share this vision with the Lowcountry & Midlands.


Elizabeth McHugh - Elizabeth is the Director of Sales at Edible Charleston & Edible Columbia. Working in restaurants the past 5 years and growing up with a Greek mother, she adopted a love for food and all things tasty. Her background in psychology, neuroscience and health & wellness coaching fuels her passion for creating community, especially in regards to good food, understanding where it comes from, and creating the relationships to foster this.


Ron McHugh- Weighing in at 260lbs with over 25 years of eating experience, Ron brings an eclectic palate to the table (literally). With 10 years in the hospitality industry, he has had the opportunity to experience a variety of cuisines globally. As a former chef, Ron specializes in traditional American fare. His favorite dish to savor is a cheeseburger with crinkle cut fries. Currently, Ron spends time in his own kitchen while supporting Edible Charleston and Edible Columbia in various capacities.columbia-Black-Logo-square Charleston Black Logo

Let us know if you're attending by visiting our Facebook event page:

Poker Run, Walk or Crawl Benefiting Palmetto Place

Are Harley Davidson bikes your passion? Do you enjoy playing poker? Do you want to help support the kids at Palmetto Place? If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, the Poker Run, Walk, or Crawl is for you!

Spend Saturday, June 4th at the Thunder Tower Harley-Davidson!

2016 Poker Run, Walk or Crawl0001

Registration starts at 10:00 am and the last draw is at 3:00 pm.

Tickets are only $15 per person and can be bought at the door. Come early for door prizes, a 50/50 raffle, the silent auction and great music.

The 2016 food vendors include Ronnie's Ribs, Scottie's cafe, and Buffalo Wild Wings. Be sure to check our other stops sponsored by Quaker Steak and Lube!

Sweet & Savory Chef's Competition 2016

Thank you to everyone who was a part of Sweet & Savory.

Palmetto Place depends on this fundraiser to keep our doors open and allow us to serve abused, neglected and homeless children and teens. This year we were able to raise an incredible $35,000! We wouldn't have been able to do this without our sponsors, chefs, committee members and of course, donors like you.

Now, the moment you've all been waiting for. The winners of our 2016 Sweet & Savory Chef Competition!

From our special guest judges, the Best Sweet Dish winners are Chefs Ben Perzan and Arie Shenkar from the Mediterranean Tea Room with a Peach Mascarpone Jam and a Blackberry Mascarpone Jam on top of French Toast. The Best Savory Dish winner is Chef Robert Stegall from Performance Food Group with Cowboy Shrimp & Grits!

From the guests’ ballots, the Best Sweet Dish winner is Chef Robert Stegall from Performance Food Group with Chocolate Truffles and the Best Savory Dish winners are Chefs Vinnie and Daniel Livoti with a Potato Hash Trio with Tasso Ham Gravy, Pulled Duck and Raspberry Balsamic Drizzle!


Save the Date for April 28th, 2016! 

SC State Museum- Planetarium Lobby, 301 Gervais St., Columbia, SC 29201 6:00-9:00 PM

*Tickets can be purchased at the door.  Attire is everything from business attire to cocktail dresses, suits to khakis & polos. 

Our annual Sweet & Savory Chef's Competition is coming up! Join us for a night of tasty treats and one-of-a-kind auction items. Let your voice be heard by voting for your favorite sweet and savory dishes. Learn more about Palmetto Place and support abused, neglected and homeless children and teens throughout the state.

Introducing our 2016 Chefs:

Chef Charlie Young ~ BBQ Chicken Sliders with Slaw Chef Dave Grillo, Cantina 76 ~ Beef Brisket Tacos Chef Dave Grillo, Za's ~ Bruschetta Crostini Chefs Vinnie & Daniel Livoti ~ Potato Hash Trio with Tasso Ham Gravy; Pulled Duck and Raspberry Balsamic Drizzle  Chef Yasmeen Bull & Chef Brenda Perry, Southern FoodService ~ Chocolate Ravioli Chef Michael Stuckey, The Southern Way ~ Braised Short Rib, Parsnip-Chive Paree, Smoked Blackberry Demi Glaze Chef Lawrence Wright, Southern FoodService ~ Harissa Braised Pork Belly with Smoked Tomato and Pickled Collards Chef Ben Perzan and Chef Arie Shenkar, the Mediterranean Tea Room Peach Mascarpone Jam and a Blackberry Mascarpone Jam on top of Challah French toast. Chef Larry Platt & Chef John Militello, Let's Cook Culinary Studio ~ Spicy Sausage & Golden Grits Chef Robert Stegall, Performance Food Group ~ Cowboy Shrimp and Grits and Chocolate Truffles

Sweet & Savory Save the Date

Special thanks to our sponsors and supporters: 

Gold Sponsor

All Star Financial AllStar

Southern FoodService Southern Foodservice Mngmt


Chef’s Station Sponsors


Wells Fargo

Gibson & Associates


Bronze Sponsor


Gregory Electric

Bar Sponsor

Liquid Assets

Tito’s Vodka

Rex Goliath

David Rottman

Banner Sponsor

First Citizens Bank

Publix SuperMarkets

With Special Thanks to:

Not Even Brothers Band

Katherine Anderson, Decorator

Sheila Ernest, Program Designer

Charlotte Greenwood, USC Intern

Essence Jackson, USC Intern

Kaitlyn McLaughlin, USC Intern

Special Guest Judges:

Meaghan Norman, WIS

September is Hunger Action Month

September is Hunger Action Month



Did you know that 1 in 6 people struggle to get enough to eat? What about the fact that food insecurities are particularly harmful to children?

Many people think hunger is directly influenced by poverty. Although related, food insecurity and poverty are not the same. Poverty in the United States is only one of many factors associated with food insecurity. In fact, higher unemployment, lower household assets, and certain demographic characteristics also lead to a lack of access to adequate, nutritious food.

In the United States today, 15 million children face hunger. Consequently, one in five kids are facing greater obstacles to reaching their fullest potential. The future of America lies in our children. When hunger threatens the future of a child, it threatens the future of our nation as well.

Food insecurity is harmful to all people, but it is particularly devastating to children due to their increased vulnerability and the potential for long-term consequences. Proper nutrition is critical to a child’s development. Not having enough of the right kinds of food can have serious implications for a child’s physical and mental health, academic achievement and future economic prosperity. Unfortunately, food insecurity is an obstacle that threatens that critical foundation. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), in 2012, 15.9 million children under 18 in the United States live in households where they are unable to consistently access enough nutritious food necessary for a healthy life

While hunger has no boundaries, it does impact some communities more than others. African Americans are more than twice as likely to suffer from food insecurity as their white, non-Hispanic counterparts. The Latino population in the United States has nearly doubled in the past decade and continues to grow. Currently, Latino and African American communities are disproportionately impacted by food insecurity, poverty and unemployment.

According to a 2012 study, there are 807,960 people in South Carolina who face food insecurity, 292,840 of those are children. As a state, 28% of children do not know when or what their next meal will be. Right here in Columbia 20% of children go hungry.

But there are ways you can help. Palmetto Place become home to some of these hungry children. In addition to providing a save shelter, and clothing we also feed 20 kids three times a day. On a weekly basis we use 7 gallons of milk, 30 pieces of chicken, 5 boxes of cereal and sometimes more than 15 boxes of after school snacks. The best way you can help during Hunger Action Month is by picking up gift cards next time you are at the store. Our house parents shop at local grocery stores during the week to make sure our kids get fresh meat, fruits, and veggies. So, next time you go grocery shopping, keep Palmetto Place on your list.

September is Hunger Action Month

For more information on hunger check out these fact sheets-

Hunger and Poverty Face Sheet

Child Hunger Fact Sheet

African American Hunger Fact Sheet

Latino Hunger Fact Sheet

What Does Home Feel Like?

“The known smells, sounds, sights, and feel of home let our brains relax and rejuvenate. It's a key part of why 'There's no place like home.'” When I saw this tweet from Amelia Franck Meyer (@alfranckmeyer), can you guess the first thing that came to mind?

If you know me, you know my mind went to the smell of food. My very first thought was of the smell of bacon as I walk into Palmetto Place in the morning. Ms. Matilda and Ms. LaConte cook some great breakfasts and the bacon smell is a great way to start the morning.

Amelia knows what she’s talking about – she knows kids and she knows kids who’ve experienced trauma. She’s the CEO of Anu Family Services in Wisconsin and Minnesota and a guru at well-being for kids and taking care of kids who are in out-of-home care, just like our kids. When she speaks, I listen, because what she says is important and crucial for the right care of kids who’ve experienced trauma.

So, let’s talk about the five senses of home.



Bacon in the mornings! And laundry - the almost nonstop smell of laundry. I love that clean smell!



I can mark the time in the afternoons by the sound of the kids on the basketball court. It means they’re home from school. It means I get to take a work break and go play for a few minutes and see how the day was at school. It’s 15 minutes that I can connect with kids as they unwind. I will always remember one particular middle schooler who started playing at exactly 3:45 every day all by himself. It was his way to relax and think through the day. I learned a lot from him.



Endless smiles. That’s what comes to mind. We have smiles in the mornings before school! Okay, truth – that’s mostly elementary school kids. Middle schoolers, well, they’re a little grumpy. High schoolers, they’re so independent that they’re just out the door. If you have kids, you know!

FullSizeRender IMG_2271

There’s a lot to see at Palmetto Place. There are older kids helping younger kids, houseparents and volunteers helping kids with homework or playing games or reading. To walk through the house on any given afternoon is a treat. It is a house buzzing with activity. It is kids being kids.



Ask the kids and they will tell you their favorite foods! Ms. Gloria’s spaghetti, Ms. Jenny’s baked chicken, Ms. Betty’s shrimp fried rice, Ms. Jill’s Christmas Eve dinner and on and on and on. Ask kids and adults who once lived at Palmetto Place and they’ll have their own memories of food they loved.



A wise friend taught me something very smart years ago. Hugs, high fives and handshakes. As her kids enter her classroom each morning, they get to choose one. I borrowed this from her – that’s the highest form of flattery, right?

Hugs, high fives and handshakes are what all kids need, but especially kids who’ve experienced trauma, abuse, neglect. I’m a big fan of a hug. I hug every kid who wants a hug. New kids who’ve just arrived at Palmetto Place are understandably standoffish at first. Who is this woman and these other adults and all these kids who want to be my friend? Who can I trust? And after a day or so, after they’ve seen other kids give hugs, then they want in on the hugs and the high fives! That first hug is always a little hesitant. But then it becomes a giant group hug.

Touch. It’s how kids learn to connect with others. It’s a part of learning to trust. It’s a part of accepting love.

IMG_2281 shoe boxes

Since it’s the first week of school, there are other parts of the sense of touch on my mind too. The feel of those brand new shoes. Carrying a brand new backpack to school. Writing with a newly sharpened pencil on that smooth new composition notebook. Everyone's new haircuts! Thank you InnerSole, FiA Midlands, AFLAC, TD Bank and many others for providing shoes, school supplies and much more!)


Do you see a pattern? All of these memories through senses – they are the feel of home. And there’s no place like home. When home isn’t a safe place, there is Palmetto Place.

~ Erin Hall, Executive Director

Sweet & Savory Chef's Competition March 26, 2015

Information on 2016's Sweet & Savory Chef's Competition is coming soon!

Thank you to all who attended Sweet & Savory!  Such a wonderful and fun night! We were able to raise $27,000!! This is incredible and all thanks to the wonderful members of the community who support us. We appreciate you so much.

Winners of 2015 Sweet & Savory !!

From the Guests' Ballots:

Savory: Smoked Beef Tenderloin with Caramelized Onions & Rosemary-Port Reduction by Suzie Kerns & Julie Taylor Sweet: Bananas Foster by Whittaker Williams

From our Special Guest Judges:

Savory: Bourbon Braised Pork Belly, Cold Smoked Turbinado & Cardamom, Pickled Rhubarb & Fennel, Lawrence Wright

Sweet: Fireball Cheesecake, John Lindower

The full menu from 2015:

  • Chef Vinnie & Chef Daniel, BlueCross BlueShield ~ Grilled Coffee and Cola Skirt Steak with Jicama-Cilantro Slaw
  • Chef Lawrence Wright, Southern FoodService ~ Bourbon Braised Pork Belly, Cold Smoked Turbinado and Cardamom, Pickled Rhubarb and Fennel; plus Rhubarb and Strawberry Tartlets, Balsamic Cream
  • Chef Ben Perzan, Merchants Foodservice ~ Lemon Custard Cups

  • Chef Ryan Whittaker, 116 Espresso & Wine Bar ~ Spanish Hot Chocolate & Churros, Cocoa & Spice-Rubbed Carolina Heritage Farms Pork Loin
  • Chef Whittaker Williams, Chili Gourmet Bar-B-Cue House ~ Bananas Foster
  • Chef Charlie Young ~ BBQ Chicken Sliders with Slaw
  • Chef John Lindower, Culinary Institute at USC ~ Fireball (ID REQUIRED) Cheesecake; Cascade Mountain Chicken

  • Chef Dave Grillo, Cantina 76 ~ Beef Short Rib Taco with Cilantro and Roasted Garlic Aioli Topped with Pickled Onions
  • Chefs Suzie Kerns & Julie Taylor ~ Smoked Beef Tenderloin with Carmelized Onions & Rosemary-Port Reduction; Linzer Torte
  • Chef Coretta Simmons, Loving Hands Catering ~ Low Country Chicken Bog, a/k/a Chicken Perlo

**Attire is everything from business attire to cocktail dresses, suits to khakis & polos. 

Tickets are $35 for individuals and $60 for couples ahead of time.

The night of the event, tickets will be $40 per person and $70 per couple.

Judges: David Campbell, Chef Larry Platt (Let's Cook Culinary), WLTX's Savannah Levins

Music provided by DJ Bryan Vacchio. Thanks to Liquid Assets for providing bartenders for us!


If you or your company would like to sponsor the event or contribute an auction item, please contact Erin Hall.

Thank you to our sponsors for this event!!

GetAttachment liquid

 Click for Options

Click for Options


When Our Children Give Back

Today’s post comes from Victoria Infinger, our communications intern.

“Feel what it’s like to truly starve, and I guarantee that you’ll forever think twice before wasting food.” – Criss Jami

Feeding the homeless can leave a forever footprint on the hearts of those who have never seen or understood what it is like to be hungry or homeless.  For some of our children, hungry and homeless are two words all too familiar to them.

I stumbled across the above quote as I tried to create an understanding in myself of what it meant for the children of the Palmetto Place to volunteer and feed the homeless and hungry people of Columbia.  These children know more than anyone what it means to be starving, and not just starving for food – starving for attention, starving for love, and starving for a better tomorrow.  These are things I believe in my heart that they cherish, and will never come to waste.  So when I discovered this quote, thoughts inside me began to stir.

The idea of the children feeding the homeless came about while on an ice cream outing.  “We were talking about how sometimes we waste food when we don’t eat it,” said Jill Lawson, who took the children to feed the homeless. “Then one of the girls said to me, ‘We should help out the homeless who can’t eat.  Ms. Jill, let’s take the wasted food to the homeless people!’”

So, we decided to take our children to a homeless shelter to gain a greater understanding of what it means to give back to the community.  Many of our children have been recipients of good will, so we thought it would be a fun change of pace to show them how wonderful it feels to give.


Homeless 6               Homeless 2


“At first, most of them were hesitant and afraid of the unknown,” said Jill.  “After arriving at the location, they became excited and realized the people we would be serving are just the same as us, but living in different circumstances.”

The children ended up having a very enjoyable and even “humbling” experience, according to Jill.  All the children had important roles, and learned a lesson or two about what it means to serve the community.  Some children were placed outside their comfort zone, and learned that they were fine with it!  For example, the more shy children were placed to greet people – and they loved it.  Even the smaller children had a place to volunteer.  They did a great job bringing dessert out to the homeless!

Jill said watching the children feed the homeless made her feel “proud”.  “They were extremely respectful, polite and eager to help others in need,” she said.  “I watched them step up to the challenge, do something out of their comfort zone and thrive.”


Homeless 3               Homeless 1


Moe's Percent Night April 23

Students from Ridge View High School are hosting a percent night at Moe's Southwest Grill of Sandhills on Wednesday, April 23! A percentage of the purchases will be donated to Palmetto Place Children's Shelter. Be sure to present the flyer below when purchasing your delicious burrito or salad! If you forget the flyer that's okay, just tell your cashier you are participating in the Ridge View High School fundraiser.

Moe's offers a variety of menu options including vegetarian meals, kids meals and low calorie selections. To see the full Moe's menu click here.

Moe's of Sandhills is located at 470 Town Center Pl, Columbia, S.C. 29229. moes

Stop by the First Citizens Café April 7-11

Next week, April 7-11, the First Citizens Café of Columbia will be donating all of its tips to Palmetto Place Children’s Shelter. The Café offers a variety of coffee beverages, pastries and healthy lunch options. Stop by for your morning coffee or on your lunch break! All of the menu options are prepared fresh daily.

It’s through the generosity of volunteers, donors and organizations in the Columbia community that Palmetto Place is able to continue providing services for abused and neglected children.

The Café is open Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  It’s located at 1210 Main St. Columbia, SC 29201.

Want to know more about First Citizens Café? Check out their website.


Volunteer Spotlight: We Love Pancakes!

One of the great ways to volunteer here at Palmetto Place Children’s Shelter is cooking a meal for our kids. You can either prepare a meal in advance or come to our kitchen to cook. Two of our regular volunteers, Debra Branson and her husband Ron Branson, come about once a month to cook pancakes for the kids.

When asked about how she felt about volunteering Debra had this to say, “As much as the kids say they love us coming each month to fix pancakes, Ron and I definitely get more back from them than they do from us. It is such a joy to interact with the kids – their eagerness, joy at seeing us and hearing their thanks at the end of breakfast. Even the ones who you can tell are having some issues never fail to say thank you. We know, for the most part, that is due to the very special people who take care of them at Palmetto Place.”

This month the Bransons made blueberry and chocolate pancakes – a huge hit with the kids! We love having them cook breakfast and can’t wait to see which flavor pancakes they’ll cook next month!

We depend a great deal on our volunteers and its remarkable to know how much they love helping out. “I can honestly say that every time we leave Palmetto Place, we come out with hearts filled with joy,” said Debra.

For more information about volunteer opportunities check out our volunteer page or contact us at

Palmetto Place Announces Live & Silent Auction Items for Sweet & Savory

Bid High! Bid Often! Tickets are $35 for individuals and $60 for couples. Tickets will be available for purchase at the door, for the same price. (Click on "individuals" or "couples" to order tickets online.)

Live Auction Trips:

  • ~New Orleans Jazz & Dining: Experience the rich jazz culture of New Orleans with VIP admission to the Preservation Hall of Jazz! Dinner with wine pairing at Commander’s Palace. This trip includes roundtrip airfare for two and a 3-night stay at the Renaissance Pere Marquette hotel.
  • ~The Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas:  This trip includes roundtrip airfare for two and a 3-night stay at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas. Enjoy VIP seating at a top Vegas show of your choice!
  • ~Sip & Soar through Napa Valley: This trip includes roundtrip airfare for two and 3-night stay at the Meritage Resort. Take in the sights with a hot air balloon ride over Napa Valley. Enjoy some of Napa’s best wine selections with a tour and wine tasting for two at Fontanella Family Winery.

We also have great silent auction items from Image Makers Salon, Photographer Jeff Amberg, Barre3, Hampton Hill Athletic Club, Charleston Cooks!, various local artists, Terminix, Aun & McKay, Uptown on Main Street and many more!

Plus look for these trips in our silent auction:

  • ~Week's stay at a 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom condo on Sanibel Island
  • ~Charleston Luxury Getaway: This trip includes a 3-night stay for two at Orient-Express Charleston.  Includes dinner and wine pairings at the renowned Charleston Grill. You will have a private tour of historical Charleston.
  • ~Discover Chicago Dining: This trip includes roundtrip airfare and a 3-night stay for two at the Fairmount Chicago. Taste all that Chicago has to offer at your choice of over 20 restaurants!
  • ~Stress Busters Getaway: Choose the spa of your dreams with this $1,000 Spa Gift Certificate at select spa locations through Spa Finder. This includes roundtrip airfare for two and a 3-night stay at the Hyatt Hotels & Resorts near the spa of your choice.

Sweet Savory Cover

The Whole World in His Hands

Ariel, 3-years-old, went home to live with mom and her older brother last week. She and her brother had come to us in mid-December, though he was moved to another facility during the summer. Ariel had hardly any words in her vocabulary when she first arrived.

She learned to speak, thanks in large part to the dedication of our house parents. When she left, she could ask for what she wanted in very clear sentences. She spoke to EVERYONE by name and could ask new friends what their names were. She learned to say “delicious” at lunch and dinner.

She learned how to sing “He’s got the whole work in his hands” and would insert names in it – He’s got me and Ms. Laconte in his hands!

She learned how to dress herself, pick out her own clothes and help our 2-year-old little girl, Rhea, do the same.

We will miss Ariel. We'll miss the way she spoke to us and looked at us with understanding beyond her three years, the way she enthusiastically demanded hugs, the way she offered compliments on shoes and earrings and hair. We are sad to see her go. But we always remind ourselves in these situations, when one sweet kiddo leaves, there is another who needs us--one who is waiting for there to be a little more space in  our hands for holding.