They skipped the crumpets but there was plenty of tea to go around last Friday afternoon at the adult day services at the Chugiak Senior Center. Instead, Program Coordinator Sharon Butler and her crew served up bacon or spinach quiche, croissants, salmon dip on crackers, mini cinnamon rolls and a tempting chocolate truffle made with Oreo cookies as its base on the three tiered plated servers sitting in the middle of each table next to tea pots. It’s an annual tradition Butler puts together shortly after the senior center’s fall fundraising tea. She wants to make sure that the patrons of the adult day services and residents of the center’s assisted living facility aren’t left out of the fun. “Most of them either don’t have someone that can take them to the fundraising tea or they just cannot afford it on their limited incomes,” Butler said as she poured hot water into a cup with a mint tea bag. “This gives them the chance to participate.”
Butler borrows china from the center’s main dining facility. Over the years, people have donated sets of china ware comprised of varying amounts: Some had six matching cups and plates; others maybe only three. To Butler, it doesn’t matter. She knows today’s table is often set with mismatched dishes.
Friday afternoon’s tea featured everything from the Sydney Roses collection by Farberware to the traditional Gibson set with a simple line of color circling the plate to colorful floral patterns made by a designer that opted not to stamp their signature on the bottom of the cup. “We are in style,” she joked. “More and more, when you go to an official tea room, you will see mismatched tea sets. It’s fun actually because you get to see all the different patterns instead of just one.”
Ovita Camacho, a 93-year-old patron of the adult day services from Eagle River, opted to drink peach passion tea from a cup with purple flowers that matched her outfit. “It doesn’t matter to me if the dishes don’t match,” she said with a smile. It does to JoAnn Cooney, one of the day service program assistants. Her OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) was in full swing, she teased, as she went from table to table delivering treats and pouring hot water. “I can’t sit down because it will bother me to look at that,” she said as she worked her way around the room. She is OCD, yet more importantly, Cooney busied herself making sure the needs of each attendee were catered to.
The tea party is a distraction from the regular routine, Butler said. “I like to do something different with our clients,” she remarked. “You know, you can only play bingo so many times each week.”