With a giggle and a grin Bev Somers plops a berry onto a fresh whip-creamed portion of cake. The dollop of cream came at the capable hands of Donna Brandle and before that, Barb Gossman cut the cake and doled out the berries.
They are the young-at-heart type of women who refer to themselves as “the girls” who started the Strawberry Tea three decades ago.
“When I first moved to the West Shore I didn’t have very many friends,” Somers said. “So I joined this church.”
The trio, along with Darleen Terlson, started as friends in the young mothers group that met on Thursday mornings.
“We didn’t have a nursery and we didn’t have funds, so we started this fundraiser,” Gossman said. This year, the 28th at Colwood’s Church of the Advent (the first two were held in St. John the Baptist), is the 30th consecutive strawberry tea.
They attribute longevity to friendship and fun.
“You have to have champions. We persevered and believed in it,” Brandle said.
It started with serving 50 slices of cake on a Thursday afternoon. Now they require 50 volunteers, working in shifts, to feed the masses.
“We have had up to 500 but we usually serve about 300,” Brandle said of the now weekend event.
The tea, with craft sale added a couple decades ago, is as much about camaraderie and inclusion as fundraising.
“Some people you see and you don’t get to know them. When you work with them you get to know them,” said Gossman.
“All ages get involved,” Brandle said. “That’s a real draw I think.”
With the nursery built long ago, the money now goes into general coffers for things like youth programs. “We also try to support outside of our church, like Compassionate Warehouse or the food bank,” Brandle added. “We’re not just thinking of ourselves.”
The Strawberry Tea and Craft Fair is Saturday, June 8 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Church of the Advent, 510 Mount View Rd. in Colwood.