Dainty finger sandwiches rested on tiered trays. A teapot filled with spiced tea graced each table. Benjamin Akeala Belew’s piano music jazzed up the party. The Santa Clara Sister Cities Association’s fifth annual Afternoon Tea took place on Jan. 10 at the Santa Clara Senior Center. Over 200 guests attended the social mixer. Attendees purchased tickets for opportunity drawings. A football signed by San Francisco 49er NaVorro Bowman was auctioned off. By the end of the afternoon, the tea raised about $5,000.
“Money raised from the tea will be applied toward scholarships of 10 kids who are traveling to Coimbra, Portugal this spring,” says Kathy Watanabe, president of the Santa Clara Sister Cities Association. “The tea social was a goal of Debi Davis while she was president of Sister Cities and this is our biggest fundraiser each year.”
“Last year was a good year because we added Limerick as a new sister city, and the Sister Cities Association, under the leadership of Kathy Watanabe has grown,” says Debi Davis, Santa Clara Vice-Mayor and volunteer coordinator of the tea social.
Colin Boyles was the event caterer. Items on the menu included pineapple, carrot and cream cheese sandwiches, which came with bites of sweet tropical fruit accompanied by a smooth crunch. Nestled in endive leaves were scrumptious chicken sandwiches, served with apricot sauce and scallions for layered flavors.
During the tea, Watanabe presented former mayor Patricia Mahan with a crystal paperweight heart. On the paperweight is an inscription that recognizes Mahan for her years of support toward the Sister Cities Association.
“My parents hosted Japanese students when I was in high school, so we grew up with Sister Cities,” Mahan says. “These cultural exchanges broaden horizons.”
Attendees connected with existing friends and acquaintances, and they also branched out and met new people.
“This tea party is wonderful,” says Catherine Alexander, a resident of Cupertino who heard about the event from being a member of the Santa Clara Woman’s Club. “I love seeing the participation of the teen volunteers here. I wish Cupertino would do something like this.”
“I intend to spend a lot of time listening and visiting schools this year,” says newly elected school board member Jodi Muirhead. “I will be getting out in the community and attending city events, such as this really nice event here today.”
The City of Santa Clara is currently sister cities with Coimbra, Portugal; Izumo, Japan; and Limerick, Ireland. The Sister Cities Association hosts fundraisers, such as barbeques and potlucks, throughout the year to raise money for scholarships.
“We’re also planning an event at the end of the year to raise money with the goal of sending a delegation to Limerick, because next year is the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising in Ireland,” Watanabe says. “And a lot of the country of Ireland will be honoring this day, which was the prelude to the Irish War of Independence.”