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Flying Monkey to host benefit for Honduran cooking school

May 16, 2012
PLYMOUTH— The Flying Monkey Movie House and Performance Center invites community members to Honduras Hope, a fundraiser featuring a silent auction of art and crafts made by local New Hampshire artisans and a concert by The Wicked Smart Horn Band on May 26, with the show starting at 7:30 p.m.

Seven or eight years ago, Alex Ray, owner of the Common Man Family of restaurants, was approached by a friend, Bill Briggs, and asked to go to Honduras.

"I thought, 'Oh Boy, they're hooking me in for money. I know what this is all about. I run a business and they seem to think they hooked a good fish here,'" said Ray. "I was very unsure, but finally, they talked me into it."

Ray and Briggs visited two local villages set in the mountains of Yoro, Honduras, where indigenous Hondurans had been driven due to large global food producers seeking fertile land to grow large amounts of their crops.

"Briggs has since helped them to organize themselves," said Ray. "To create schools and clinics and self governing bodies, and they can have co-ops and work on their own economics in their villages up in the mountains. It's great to see somebody not just say, 'Oh we've got some money, here's some money and we will build you a house or a church or something.'"

During his trip to Honduras, Ray had an interesting revelation about donating and giving back, realizing that it's not necessarily just about money.

"I discovered something that was more than just sort of giving money to people who could use it; it was more sharing personal passion of helping people out myself," said Ray. "I thought this is good for me, and I'm doing something other than the daily grind and I'm feeling good about it."

Since his first visit to Honduras, Ray has been back between 20 and 30 times, and had decided, like Briggs, to do something other than donate money to help. Ray decided to build a culinary school to help teach Hondurans the trade of cooking.

"I decided I would help this vocational school that some of the kids were lucky enough to come down to and change their lives," said Ray. "It was mostly male, unfortunately, but they had woodshop, machinery, auto mechanics, welding and other trades but I thought they could use a culinary school and that's the only think I know; the restaurant business."

The cooking school, CEVER School for Hospitality, has been a work in progress over the past five years, and has been a learning experience for Ray.

"Almost five years ago, we started this, and it really isn't done yet because it is another world," said Ray. "They work differently, and I had to learn that."

Ray also learned that fundraising isn't as easy as it may look, and it is difficult to reach out to a wide variety of people.

"I thought I would be able to raise money through different groups and organizations, but I haven't been that good at it," said Ray. "We are more than half way done, we've got a roof on the building, and it's been fun and some pain once in a while."

Ray is hoping to have the culinary school done by February 2013, and to have to school up and running shortly after.

"I want to get it done and open this February, but I need a last push to get it done," said Ray. "I can see it coming now, and it's wonderful. It's a very good vocational school."

CEVER School for Hospitality will help provide a new trade and a better quality of life for the people of Yoro, Honduras.

"It's a place where people, not only children, can come to learn the basics of cooking so they don't have to pick coffee beans, cane or pineapple for the rest of their lives," said Ray.

If you are interested in attending the event, you can purchase your tickets for $20 by visiting the Flying Monkey's Web site: flyingmonkeynh.com or calling the box office at 536-2551. If you are interested in donating to Honduras Hope, you can send donations to Honduras Hope PO Box 60, Franconia, NH 03580.

Martin Lord Osman
Salmon Press
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