Tag Archives: Penn Club of Seattle

Seattle Alumni Put on Aprons for an Evening to Help Alleviate Poverty

By: Haley Shapley, C’06

Thanks to a little help from the Penn Club of Seattle, at least one person will be able to transition from the streets to a job in the hospitality industry.

It was all part of Guest Chef Night at FareStart, a culinary job training and placement program for homeless individuals in Seattle. Since 1992, FareStart has provided opportunities for nearly 7,000 people to transform their lives, while also serving more than 6 million meals to disadvantaged men, women, and children.

The tables are set for FareStart's Guest Chef Night, with Penn Alumni Club of Seattle members as guest servers.

The tables are set for FareStart’s Guest Chef Night, with Penn Alumni Club of Seattle members as guest servers.

Each Thursday evening, prominent guest chefs come to work with the students as part of their 16-week food-service program. The three-course meal is served by volunteers, which is where Penn alumni came in.

Chef Sam Hassan explains the evening's menu.

Chef Sam Hassan explains the evening’s menu.

Although none in the group had any restaurant experience to speak of, on April 24 we got a crash course in the art of serving, learning the importance of checking back within two bites, refilling waters regularly (and not touching the rim of the glass!), and how to properly carry a tray. Chef Sam Hassan of Maple Falls Cafe provided a tasting of the Mandioca Frita, NW by SE Pasta, and Mango Raspberry Cobbler beforehand so that we’d be able to answer questions about the ingredients when guests inquired (Just what is yuca? Ask us; we know!).

The featured servers tonight - the Penn Club of Seattle!

The featured servers tonight – the Penn Club of Seattle!

Penn Alumni getting trained

Penn Alumni getting trained

Six hours, countless pitchers of water, and a few cramped fingers later, we’d served 169 diners, raising a total of $7,116 for FareStart’s training programs, including donations of $181 and tips of $1,327. All in all, it’s more than enough to give one student safe housing, the full 16-week culinary program, and comprehensive wrap-around services.

It's a full house.

It’s a full house.

The program has a 90 percent job placement rate within three months for students after graduation, and each Guest Chef Night includes a graduation ceremony with those who’ve completed the 16-week program successfully. On our night, we watched two grads get ready to move on to the next stage of their lives, including Tina, who didn’t miss a single day. “It’s made me stay focused instead of every day wondering what’s going to happen,” she said.

Rupi Sureshkumar, Maria Seredina, and David Blum watch the graduation festivities.

Rupi Sureshkumar, Maria Seredina, and David Blum watch the graduation festivities.

Bob, who moved to Seattle in July with a big plan that fell apart, was equally grateful. “I thank this program; it really rescued me,” he said. “I learned a lot and I appreciate it. This program is ingenious to solve the problem of homelessness and poverty.”

Bellies full of delectable ingredients like shaved Parmigiano, smoked fish, and Chantilly cream, we scattered into the night back to our respective homes — energized by the experience and humbled by the fact that we made a contribution, however small, to the students being able to have homes to return to as well.

Penn alumni enjoy a hard-earned meal at the end of the evening.

Penn alumni enjoy a hard-earned meal at the end of the evening.


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Filed under Alumni Perspective, Clubs, GAN, Guest blogger, Penn Clubs, Photos, Volunteering

Penn Clubs Welcome Class of 2016

By Kiera Reilly, C’93  @KieraReilly

This week, Penn’s Class of 2016 is arriving on campus and moving into their dorms, meeting their roommates and hall mates, and exploring all that Penn has to offer. Before they made their way to Philadelphia though, many Penn Alumni Clubs around the world welcomed them to the Penn family and celebrated them at summer student send-offs. Here is a sampling of some of the west coast celebrations.

San Diego

Penn Club of San Diego president Robby Koeppel Foss, C’92, GED’92, writes, “It was exciting to meet so many talented new students! The families and students enjoyed hearing more about Philadelphia and our helpful hints for moving to the East Coast and Penn favorites. The San Diego Alumni that spoke: Gina Tapper, Troy Morrison and Jaleisha Jacobs gave great perspective on their different experiences. I just loved giving out, Philly style cheese steaks, Tastykakes and Soft Philly style pretzels to local San Diego natives who never had tried them!! I was grateful to the Philadelphia Tourism Board and Campus Philly for sending me helpful guides to hand out to the families!”

Introducing San Diego students to Philly soft pretzels.

New Penn students in San Diego were also treated to TastyKakes.

Penn Class of 2016 students from San Diego

Orange County

In Orange County, CA, local alumnus Alfio Rossetti W’01, hosted students and their families at his family’s restaurant Roma d’Italia in Tustin in a now annual gathering organized by the Penn Club of Orange County.

Delicious Italian fare at the OC gathering at Roma d’Italia.

Students mingling and meeting each other at the Orange County send-off event.


In Washington, the Pugent Sound Penn Alumni Interview Program hosted a dinner for students and parents at the home of Janie and Raymond Lee, PAR’14, in July.

Co-chair of the Puget Sound Penn Alumni Interview Program David Blum, W’74, writes, “These freshmen were excited to meet each other, along with several Washington upperclassmen, and to learn more about undergraduate life at Penn. Students from Washington are excited to leave soon for Philadelphia. The weather was beautiful and everyone enjoyed themselves!”


In Washington, there was a red and blue cake.

Puget Sound Penn Alumni Interview Program co-chairs Bill Winkelman, C’83, WG’90, PAR’15, Deborah Garber, W’09, Belinda Buscher, C’92, and David Blum, W’74

Penn Class of 2016 from Washington State!


And in Portland, John Vosmek, C’61, president of the Penn Club of Portland shared these photos from the Penn Club of Portland 2012 Summer Lawn Party (and New-Student Send-off) at the home of Taizoon, EE’83, and Munira Doctor. Four of the area’s eight members of the Class of 2016 and three members of the Class of 2015 joined alumni, parents and friends on a typically beautiful Oregon summer evening.

Panoramic view of the Penn Club of Portland Summer Lawn Party


Penn students from the Portland area: left to right, front: Vidushi Bhargava, Eng.’15, Catherine Yee, Eng ’16, Arthur Halin C’16
rear: Hanna Seminario, C’16, Alex Lyons, Eng ’15, Andy Liu, Eng ’15, Eric Chang, Eng ’16


This is just a sampling of the many freshman welcome events that took place all over the world this summer. While their students are at Penn, Penn Parents are welcome to join our regional Penn Clubs – and we hope in four years the Class of 2016 will join their local Penn Club and continue this tradition.

Find out more about our regional Penn Alumni Clubs here: http://www.alumni.upenn.edu/club/index.html

For our most recent alumni, join your local Penn Club and attend a First September event welcoming the Class of 2012 in your town: http://www.alumni.upenn.edu/club/firstseptember/index2012.html

Follow our Penn Clubs on Twitter!

Penn Club of Orange County: @PennClubOC

Penn Club of San Diego: @PennClubSD


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Filed under Clubs, GAN, Kiera R., Penn Clubs, Photos, West Coast Regional Office