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March 30, 2004 > Kidango's Tasters Showcase

Kidango's Tasters Showcase

by Praveena Raman

The 9th annual Taster's Showcase benefiting Kidango's nutrition center will take place on April 25th 2004 at the Newark/Fremont Hilton. The center provides breakfast, lunch and snacks to 2,800 children enrolled in Kidango centers around the Bay area.

Kidango began as Tri-Cities Children's Centers in 1979, a private non-profit agency providing services for families and children from birth to 12 years of age. There are 44 Kidango centers located in Alameda, Santa Clara, San Mateo, and San Francisco Counties. Of these, there are 8 centers in Fremont, 2 centers in Newark, 10 centers in Union City and 3 centers in Hayward.

Kidango programs help meet the educational needs of children from different economic backgrounds preparing them for kindergarten - children who need enrichment programs before and after school, children whose parents are teenagers or who have been in an abusive environment, children who are homeless, children from different ethnic backgrounds and children with disabilities. "Our program is very unique," says Nancy O'Rourke, Director of Special Projects at Kidango. "Children with disabilities are integrated into the classrooms in this center based program and they are not differentiated. Whereas in the public schools they are often separated and placed in a special needs class."

To support the diverse emotional and developmental needs of children, Kidango employs the services of a child psychologist, Dr. Debra Turner, Kidango Mental Health Services Director, who with the help of staff psychologists, observes children in classrooms of different centers and works with staff and parents to help children with behavioral problems become successful. This helps children to thrive in the public school system.

Kidango also has an early intervention program for children with developmental delays. A team of specialists including occupational, physical and speech therapists work with the children and support parents. These services can be provided at a family's home or integrated into the classrooms at some of the centers.

Kidango operates a state preschool program for children ages 3 to 5 years in conjunction with the New Haven Unified School District and the Alum Rock Elementary School District. The program is funded by the California Department of Education. Kidango, in collaboration with local school districts, also offers teen parents the opportunity to stay in school by offering care for their children. Families are also supported through parent education programs and workshops on the different stages of child development.

Kidango was recently awarded a grant from the Candlelighters to upgrade the flooring and electrical fixtures in the classrooms at the Rix Center in the Irvington District of Fremont. Kidango also received a Good Samaritan grant from the Health Trust in January 2004 to support mental health services at the Kidango centers on the east side of San Jose.

In keeping with the developing needs of the enrolled children, Kidango provides nutritious breakfast, lunch and snacks. A small portion of these costs are met through the fees that families are able to pay. However, 75% of the children enrolled in the program are on a subsidy so the center raises funds through its annual Tasters Showcase to meet the expenses of running the nutritional center. Nancy O'Rourke says, "We raised $56,000 last year and we are hoping to raise $60,000 this year. The funds will also be used to buy a new delivery vehicle and more equipment. The nutritional center is based in Fremont. We prepare all the food here and then deliver it to all our centers in the Bay area."

The Taster's Showcase will feature food and drinks from local restaurants, wineries and businesses like Applebee's Neighborhood Grill and Bar, Berkeley Farms, Burrito Loco Taqueria, Chevy's, Chili's, China Chili, Chouinard Vineyards, Crystal Basin Cellars, Elliston Vineyards, Fellini O, Figueroid Enterprises, Fremont Coffee Roasting/Mission Coffee, Gelato Classico, HomeTown Buffet, Mother Dear's Creole Potato Salad, New Taste of India, Papillon, Pearl's Cafˇ, Plan B Grill & Ale House, Retzlaf Estate Wines, Roses: A Chinese Cafe, Seven Up, Spin A Yarn, Thomas Coyne Winery, Trader Joe's, Westover Winery & Event Center.

For an entry fee of $30, attendees receive unlimited tasting of all the food and drinks at the showcase. The entry ticket also enters the purchaser in a drawing for one of twelve gift certificates to local restaurants. Besides the food and drinks, there will be a silent auction of items donated by the community and businesses and a live auction featuring three large prizes, including a week on a yacht in the Caribbean, a week in a villa in Jamaica and a week in a villa in Tuscany. The Showcase a committee is comprised of 20 volunteers from the community and Kidango's Board of Directors.

The 2004 Tasters Showcase will be held on Sunday April 25th from 1-4 p.m. at the Newark/Fremont Hilton on 39900 Balentine Drive, Newark, CA - 94560. Tickets are $30 when purchased in advance or $40 at the door.

Tickets can be purchased at Kidango, Administrative Office or by mail, Attn: Taster's Showcase Tickets 4533 Mattos Drive Fremont, CA 94536. The office is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

For more information about the event or to be a sponsor, contact Nancy O'Rourke, Director of Special Projects, Kidango 510/744-9280 ext. 18 e-mail: Information about Kidango and the Tasters Showcase can also be found at

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