Wine and Food Tasting has dedicated leadership

Two Kinship members tell how they got involved and stayed involved for so many years
Kinship Scrapbooks Founders.jpg

The 60th Annual Kinship Center Wine and Food Tasting will be happening at Paicines Ranch on Sept. 10. The Gabilan Chapter of the Kinship Center has been hosting this event in one form or another for 60 years.

Kinship Center is dedicated to the creation, preservation and support of foster, adoptive and relative families for children who need them. According to its website, "Kinship Center’s guiding belief has been that every child deserves a safe, loving family. From newborns to older children, from medically fragile to larger sibling groups, Kinship Center has continued to work nonstop to ensure that more children find their ‘forever families’." 

The event now requires a team of 35 women volunteers to pull it off. Some of those women have been involved in Kinship and its annual fundraiser since the 1960s and 1970s. As the team prepared for their big weekend, they put a moment aside to review their scrapbooks and share memories of past events. 

Volunteer work is an opportunity to get to know new friends in San Benito County and give time to a good purpose. BenitoLink was able to get some personal stories via email from to two long-time Kinship volunteers and officers. In their own words, Madeline Nelson and Lenore Hailstone share a few stories about how they got involved and memorable Kinship events of the past: 

Madeline Nelson

When we moved here in 1970, Mary Grunnagle, a founding Kinship member, introduced me to the chapter and the successful fundraising events they produced.  After 4 years on the waiting list, I became an active member in 1974.

The event had already been held for 18 years when I became a member, and with 35 active members, we all assumed the jobs needed to have a successful evening. I have had the co-chairman position twice over the years. The co-chairs oversee the work of the committees, and we all decide on new ideas to make the event fun and profitable for the charity.   

Why do I do it? I have always believed in the mission statement of Kinship and the caring and honest work they do. I have also enjoyed the fellowship of the many chapter members who have been a part of the group over the years.  I have not had personal experience with adoption, but I know several families who have. It is a wonderful thing to open your heart to a child who needs a family.

A few times rain interfered with the event and we had to move it indoors, like when it was inside the airplane hangar at the Lightening Tree Ranch, then owned by the Christensons. The evening was still a success as people enjoyed the airplanes parked inside.

The Wine and Food Event has evolved over the years to a very special evening, with restaurants and wineries bringing their very best. Seeing these excellent changes makes one realize the hard work of the chapter for the children and families being served by Kinship, especially here in San Benito County.

Lenore Hailstone

I joined the group when it was a part of Children’s Home Society of California, in 1966. I joined because I felt that their mission was something that was well worth supporting. Their interest was adoption, finding parents for a child to love and finding a child a home that they otherwise might not have. Perhaps I took an interest because I had a sister who needed that service.

At that time there was an Associate membership of 400+ woman and we thanked them for their support every year with a luncheon, put on and served by the active membership. Over the years with the changing services needed it became apparent that the need was really much larger than just adoption. Also we in CHS felt that the money that we were able to generate in this county was not being utilized as it should be here and began exploring other options. We were able to join with a group headquartered in Monterey County after being assured that all money raised in SBC would stay in this county. They and we are now part of Kinship Center and the much larger Seneca Family of Agencies. We are now more able to serve the larger needs of the community.

I have been wine tasting co-chairman three times and have served in almost all the officer positions of the group, serving as president twice. Besides being an organization with a mission that was very appealing, it is an organization of women of varying ages who are known for their willingness to do whatever job is asked of them. It was well known that no one says no to whatever they are asked to do, and since our basic role is fund raising it is easy to work with women like that.

Over the years we have had other fundraising events, house tours, barn dances, and one time an Old Time Show with old fashioned clothing and a script written by someone who did just that for groups such as ours. 

The first wine tasting was a much smaller event and for several years our only Winery was Almaden, located then in south county and  entertainment was a fashion show. Slowly, it grew to have food, provided first by the member,s then Marin French Cheese. Now food is provided by generous donations of local eateries and wine and beer donated by local wineries and breweries. And our attendance has grown from several hundred to around a thousand people. This has generated much more planning and work and at this point we the feel that it is about all that 35 busy women can do.

We have had at least three rainy Wine Tastings, which is always a worry, sometimes more than others. Another time the rain held off and started just as the party was ending. One time in the early days we had to quickly un-decorate and move borrowed plants etc. from the then Law Ranch to the Veterans' Memorial Building in downtown Hollister. Those were the days when people dressed up, hats included!  One year the entertainment was a paper fashion show. All the clothing was professionally made from paper. Another memorable night was Hawaiian themed, and it was so cold that all those clothes had to be covered by coats. Over the years though, the weather has been good to us and the people of Hollister, wonderful with their support.

Gabilan Chapter Kinship Wine and Food Tasting

Saturday, Sept. 10, 4-7 p.m. at Paicines Ranch, 13388 Airline Hwy., Paicines, CA 95043



Leslie David

Leslie David is a Bay Area independent reporter/producer and is a BenitoLink founding board member. She has produced for radio, television, newspaper and magazines in both California and Wyoming. She was with KRON-TV News in San Francisco as camera-woman, editor and field producer, where she won the Commonwealth Club's Thomas Storke Award with Linda Yee for their series on the Aids Epidemic. She started as a small market news reporter shooting her own 16mm film at KEYT-TV Santa Barbara. Leslie lives on a ranch with her family in San Benito County.