Dollars raised from dining

| July 5, 2013 | 0 Comments
United Arab Emirates Ambassador Mohammed Saif Helal M. Alshehhi, shown with former chief of protocol Robert Collette, was one of the hosts at Dining with Ambassadors.

United Arab Emirates Ambassador Mohammed Saif Helal M. Alshehhi, shown with former chief of protocol Robert Collette, was one of the hosts at Dining with Ambassadors.

There’s something special about dining in the home of an ambassador and that’s the draw for the Dining with Ambassadors event, which raises money for the Rockcliffe Park Foundation.

Organizers recruit ambassadors and high commissioners to offer private dinners in their homes on a designated night in April, and then they sell tickets to the dinners. At the beginning of the evening, guests assemble for an opening reception at the Rockcliffe community hall, where they are told whose home they’ll be visiting for dinner. Then they fan out to the various hosts’ residences for the evening.

“A lot of [the diplomats] don’t know their neighbours and they often don’t realize what interesting people they have living around them,” said organizer Elizabeth Heatherington, who works in protocol at Foreign Affairs. “And, it’s not been easy for diplomats to get to make appointments with people in government, so this has been a wonderful entrée for them in many ways. They love it and the guests think it’s superb to be able to dine in so many countries without leaving their neighbourhood.”
The event has happened several times in the past and has grown over the years. Ms Heatherington thinks that’s because diplomats don’t have the same access they did in the past, and they like to meet Canadians from all walks of life.

“Also, a lot of people in private business are quiet about what they do, but when approached by diplomats, they open up because they see opportunities,” she said.
In all, 13 embassies and high commissions — Belgium, Chile, Colombia, Egypt, Finland, Germany, Guatemala, Malaysia, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay — took part. Some of the missions provided travel information, country statistics and a few even showed short films.
Ms Heatherington said the Ottawans who purchase tickets, many of whom do live in Rockcliffe, always enjoy the evening.
“The community still finds it quite special to dine in a head of mission’s residence,” she said.

This year’s event raised more than $20,000. The proceeds will be used to buy a pump for McKay Lake to make sure the water is always fresh and doesn’t get too low. It will also be used to purchase children’s books for the village library, restore village benches, rehabilitate the sports field and to publish newsletters and the book Rockcliffe Park: A History of the Village.

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