‘Taste of Decadence’ benefits VCS | SLIDESHOW

SMOKEY POINT — The Village Community Services’ annual Taste of Decadence returned to the Smokey Point Community Church on Friday, June 8.

VCS Development Director Michelle Dietz estimated that 115 diners attended the evening’s dinner, silent auction and dessert auction, which is just slightly down from the average of 120-150 attendees that she’s seen at previous years’ Tastes of Decadence.

“I’m the only paid staff member,” Dietz said. “The silent auction alone is put together by a team of 20 volunteers. We do cost-cutting measures like recycling decorations, so that only cost us $15 this year.”

While the fundraising totals for this year’s Taste of Decadence were still being added up as of press time, VCS Board President Art Hutton explained to attendees the services that their donations will help to sustain.

“VCS supports adults with disabilities and other life challenges in achieving their personal potential at home, at work and in the community,” said Hutton, who broke VCS’ services down into the components of residential, vocational and musical. “We hope we can be there for them right throughout their lives.”

While the residential component emphasizes quality-of-life, health and safety, and self-sufficiency for adults with disabilities, the vocational side of VCS seeks to foster innovative ideas and support systems that will lead to long-term employment success for those adults.

“We help them achieve independence through training and mentorship programs on the job,” Hutton said. “These are productive, meaningful jobs that they’re doing, and we’re looking to expand those as we continue to receive an influx of adults with autism and veterans coming back with disabilities.”

According to Hutton, the Voices of the Village band and VCS’ Friday music programs encourage adults with disabilities to express themselves artistically and connect with their community through public performances.

The Voices of the Village were joined this year by guest-speaker Swil Kanim, a Native American who’s appeared in Sherman Alexie movies and founded HonorWorks, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to inspire self-expression for the honor of all.

“Swil Kanim is a wonderfully inspiring speaker and stellar musician,” Dietz said of the actor and violinist.  “His message of honoring others is an excellent match with Village Community Services’ vision that people with disabilities be included as valued members of their workplace and community.”

Kanim used humor to tell the story of the tree that gave its life for his violin, and of the painfully screechy journey he made from an amateur instrumentalist to an accomplished songwriter. Although his heritage includes more than the Lummi Nation, of which he’s a member, Kanim stressed the important of not being exclusively defined by labels, such as “disabled.”

“Rather than saying, ‘I’m part-this and part-that,’ I’m everyone that I am,” Kanim said. “I’m not part-anything. We are all the sum of all our stories, all or mistakes and all our victories.”

Village Community Services is located in Suite 200 at 3210 Smokey Point Dr. in Arlington. For more information, call 360-653-7752, email or log onto


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