by Larry Austin
Tom Igiel has been chairman of the chicken barbecue and silent auction at St. Martin-in-the-Fields Episcopal Church for 10 years. To him, it's more than just a chicken dinner fundraiser, it's a means to bring the 100 or so families in the parish together.
"It's a great event," he said. "We've grown it from about 400 chickens 10 years ago, to now we do about 1,000. We started with a small silent auction, now we've got a silent auction and basket raffle. We have well over 100 different items. It's grown significantly. It's a great thing for our parish. More than a fundraiser, it's a great thing for fellowship. It's something that the whole parish works on together."
Igiel estimated 100 people in the parish volunteer to help put on the event or an average of about one member of each parish family.
"We get great participation. It really is a fellowship event."
Money raised by the barbecue, held on the church grounds at Baseline Road, supports the church's youth, including the Journey to Adulthood program for teens. In the middle of July, a group will make a pilgrimage to Ireland. Past pilgrimages have been to the Holy Land. All the trips have provided what The Rev. Earle King of St. Martin's has called life-changing experiences.
"It's one of the great things about this parish, the youth programs. We do a lot with our youth, and our youth are very active," Igiel said.