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Taste of the Valley benefits those with autism Taste of the Valley goers sample food, help those with autism

The Sunday Dispatch - 4/4/2017

PITTSTON — April is Autism Awareness Month, and Autism Awareness NEPA started the month off with the annual Taste of the Valley Kickoff Event on Sunday at the Pittston Memorial Library.

For $20, those attending were able to to sample food from local restaurants and even sample some wine at the event for those 21 and older.

Tara Quinn, 43, of West Pittston, is a committee member of Autism Awareness. She explained that April is a big month for fundraising. In previous years, Quinn said that the group received as much as $30,000 throughout the entire month.

“I’d like to make $50,000 this year,” Quinn said.

Quinn said that, besides the price of the ticket for Taste of the Valley, money is raised through raffles and other games of chance, along with monetary donations.

“And all of that money stays local,” Quinn said, explaining that it goes to help local people struggling with autism.

The event attracted a variety of local business, including City Market and Cafe, Susquehanna Brewing Company, B3Q Smokehouse and even some corporations like Buffalo Wild Wings.

Dianne Mordan, 64, of Bloomsburg, was there representing Mom & Pop’s Pierogies, a restaurant specializing in Polish food in Wilkes-Barre Township.

“My grand-nephew is autistic, so I’m here in support of him,” Mordan said, in between scooping out pierogies for eager attendees.

Mordan, whose main job is with Safety Net Counseling in Mt. Carmel and who frequently works with individuals with autism, said that the work done by groups like Autism Awareness NEPA is vital.

“It helps people know they belong in this world,” Mordan said.

A few members of the Donahue family, from Jenkins Township, were on hand giving out the wine they make through Linden Tree Winery. Casey Donahue, 63, who says the wine-making is just a hobby, got involved due to his friendship with Quinn.

“They always like our wine here,” Casey said. “I enjoy mingling with every body, and it helps a great cause.”

Sarah, 34, chimed in, saying, “It’s great to share the fruits, literally the fruits, of our labor with everyone.”

Christina Montigney, 36, of Wilkes-Barre, has come to the Taste of the Valley event in the past, and said that she’s returned to it because it’s a “great” time.

“Things like this bring a lot of awareness to autism,” Montigney said. “And the food is great, too.”

Autism Awareness NEPA will be holding other events to raise awareness for the disease throughout the month of April. A candlelight vigil will be held at 6:30 p.m. Friday, April 28, at the Luzerne County Courthouse, and a 5K Run, Walk and Awareness Fair will be held in the morning on Saturday, April 29, at the Luzerne County Recreation Complex in Forty Fort.

For more information on the events to be held, including how to register, visit Autism Awareness NEPA’s website,


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