Cemetery event raises money, friends

Guests at a fundraiser for the Old Clarkesville Cemetery savored a taste of Italian hospitality in Demorest on Oct. 11.

10112018 An evening @ Villa del Sole-5
Guests dine and mingle at Villa del Sole in Demorest during an Oct. 11 Italian dinner fundraiser.  Kellen Jenkins Photography © 2018

More than 120 people gathered at the home of Brooks Garcia for  ‘An Evening at Villa del Sole’ to learn about future plans for the historic landmark currently undergoing restoration in downtown Clarkesville.

Garcia, an Atlanta native and a member of the board of directors overseeing the cemetery project, opened his home and grounds for the party.

“It was a resounding success!” Garcia said. “We reached a new group with our message, passion and enthusiasm for this initiative. After all, this cemetery belongs to the people of Habersham County. By the overwhelming response, it shows the community is behind this project.”

10112018 An evening @ Villa del Sole-2
Nancy Kollock of Clarkesville prepares lettuce in the kitchen at Villa del Sole in Demorest in advance of guests arriving for the Oct. 11 Italian dinner fundraiser to benefit the Old Clarkesville Cemetery. Kellen Jenkins Photography © 2018

Mary Beth Horton, president of the Habersham Chamber is familiar with the cemetery’s significance from her time as economic development director in Clarkesville.

“It was absolutely fantastic,” Horton said. “What a great way to create excitement for an important cause!”

She said guests were curious about the venue and that encouraged strong interest in the fundraiser.

“The nature of the event was intriguing in and of itself,” she said. “Once we heard more about the project, it was clear that everyone had buy-in.”

A dedicated cadre of volunteers helped with the event, said Clarkesville Mayor Barrie Aycock, who also chairs the cemetery board.

“I would like to offer special thanks to everyone who showed up to help us prepare food and stage this event and to the community for supporting this project,” Aycock said.

In addition to an expansive Italian menu, including traditional antipasto items, lasagne Bolognese, polenta and wild mushroom sauce, salads and sides and several traditional desserts, guests were treated to a musical performance by Dr. Barbara Steinhaus of Clarkesville. Steinhaus chairs the music department at Brenau University.

More than $7,000 was collected, Aycock confirmed. The monies will be added to funding from an existing State of Georgia Tourism Product Development grant to continue restoring and preserving the historic site.

Garcia told the group the master plan task list will take an estimated five years to complete. He has led the restoration and landscaping efforts, along with Polly Earle, board member and cemetery restoration expert.

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