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Friday, May 5, 2017

Cinco de Mayo Fundraiser Fiesta planned to help families impacted by fire by Elizabeth Richards


The community is pulling together to support families affected by the fire on April 19th at A La Mexicana restaurant in Raymond with a Cinco de Mayo Fundraiser Fiesta.
 
The event is coming together very quickly with an outpouring of support from people throughout the local area, from Bridgton to Portland, said Laurie Mason. Mason and her husband Bob own the
building that A La Mexicana was housed in.

Mason said they plan to rebuild as soon as possible, but working with insurance is a long process. This fundraiser isn’t about the rebuilding the property, though. The money raised will go towards helping the families - owner Jose Chavez and his family, along with staff members and their families. “For us, it’s a building,” Mason said of the impact the fire had. “But for Jose and his family, it’s his life.”

Jose and his family have been tenants for many years now. They are awesome tenants,” Mason said. “They are hard-working, family oriented, honest and produce a much-loved product for the community. Everybody around here loves them,” she said. An outpouring of well wishes and comments on the restaurant’s Facebook page shows just how popular the restaurant is in the
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community.

An announcement for the event on the Maine Mayhem Women’s Football Facebook page read, “We never know how quickly our lives can be impacted by tragedy. It could happen to any of us . . .  in an instant. On Wednesday, April 19th the A La Mexicana Restaurant caught on fire. There were numerous families impacted by this tragic loss. When tragedy hits there is nothing more beautiful than an entire community rallying together to help bring a little peace to all the chaos.”

And rally they have. Adam Herald, pastor of the Refuge Church in Windham, said he knew Chavez’s sister-in-law, Jerica Parker, from building relationships in the community. “When I heard about the fire, I asked what we could do to help,” he said. “Any time there’s an obvious need in the community, I think the church needs to step up and say, ‘what can our role be and how can we get the community working together’?” In this case, in addition to helping get the word out for the event through Herald’s contacts, the Refuge Church secured the hall for a non-profit rate, and will be paying the cost of that rental.

While they were talking, Parker brought up the fact that Cinco de Mayo was a very lucrative day for the restaurant, Herald said. The idea to organize something around that day was born, almost without realizing how quickly it was approaching.

Mason said the fundraiser has certainly been on a fast track to organize. “We’re putting it together in a week. It’s not going to be perfect. But I keep telling everyone when you’re doing something with love, you can’t do it wrong.”

The outreach from the community has been phenomenal, Mason added.  Within hours of the fire, she said, she was receiving phone calls asking what people could do to help. She said that seeing this kind of response makes her feel good about the world again. “There’s a ray of sunshine, and hope, and an outpouring of love,” she said.

Along with Parker, Herald, Chavez and the Masons, some of those heavily involved in the quick organization of the event include Caitlin Faria, Mandy and Marty Greco, Alicia Paige, Anne and Dave Murch, Dave and Kathy Gerrish, Kathy and George Jillson, and Robin Brown. Point Sebago has donated a 5-night vacation as a door prize, and many other local vendors have stepped up to donate raffle and auction items. The Wrong Road band, who will perform at the event, also donated their time.
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Chavez will be providing the food for the event. He said the support they have received means a lot to him. “I never imagined it was going to be like this,” he said. “I want to say thank you so much for caring so much.”

The Fundraiser Fiesta will be held on Friday, May 5 from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. at the Windham Veterans Center, 35 Veterans Memorial Road, Windham. The event will include a buffet dinner, live music, raffles, an auction, and more. Tickets will be sold at the door, and are free for children 3 and under, $10 for children 4-12, $15 for adults and $40 for a family of four.  For more information, contact Laurie Mason at llbmason@att.net.

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