On Saturday, April 21, Northeast Opportunities for Wellness, Inc. (NOW) held the 7th Annual A Taste for NOW, A Taste for Life at Quinebaug Valley Community College in Danielson. The annual fundraiser grossed over $10,000 for 2018, with approximately 170+ people in attendance. The event, which raises funds to support youth wellness programs and scholarships in Northeast Connecticut, took on a new meaning for 2018, with a celebration of the life of longtime supporter, Nick Haines.

Established in 2012, the annual A Taste for NOW – A Taste for Life was created as a partnership between Friendly Spirits of Danielson and NOW. Serving as the major event sponsor, Friendly Spirits works with beverage distributors to donate beer and wine pairings each year, making the event a unique experience for guests and participating food establishments, alike. As a local business run by owners Rusty, Nick & Judy Haines, Friendly Spirits has proven to be a valued partner, sponsor, and friend to NOW since the organization’s inception in 2011.

Sadly, on Tuesday, April 10, 2018, Nick Haines passed away, a loss felt deeply in the community and with the NOW organization, where Nick’s son Rusty serves as a member of the Board of Directors. During the speaking portion of the April 21 event, NOW Founder and President Allan Rawson spoke about Nick and his time as a soccer coach during the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, coaching Allan’s son Jeff and Nick’s son Rusty. As well, he spoke about the long history of support the Haines family has provided to NOW. After a moment of silence was observed, it was announced that moving forward the annual Taste for NOW event would be renamed the Nick Haines Memorial Taste for NOW as a tribute to Nick’s many contributions to the community and his passion for fellowship.

The Taste for NOW remains a collaborative event, with local restaurants, bakeries, and caterers donating food that is paired with handpicked beer & wine selections from Friendly Spirits. For the 2018 event, The Black Dog Bar & Grille, Connecticut National Golf Club, The Courthouse Bar & Grille, Giant Pizza, The G Seven Catering Company, Inn at Woodstock Hill, The Lunchbox Catering Company, Renee’s Working Girl Catering, The Stomping Ground, and Victoria Station Café participated. In addition, Tito’s Handmade Vodka signed on as a first-time sponsor and provided cocktail samples featuring the beverage company’s award-winning vodka. The evening also featured a cash bar by The G Seven Catering Company and raffle items donated by a variety of local businesses, including: Back and Body Chiropractic, Black Pond Brews, Crab Tree & Evelyn, Friendly Spirits, Ginger Photography, Jessica Tuesday’s, Mohegan Sun, New York Pizza Company, Putnam Bank, The Raceway Golf Club, The Sunshine Shop, Tress Salon, The Trink-et Shoppe, and various NOW Board members.

The 2018 Taste for NOW offered live music for guests to enjoy throughout the evening, with two talented artists performing, respectively, in the QVCC Fireside Lounge and Atrium. NOW welcomed Allysen Callery, a self-taught folk artist from Rhode Island, and Tristan Omand, a folk musician from New Hampshire.

NOW Executive Director reflected on the event, “It is hard to believe that we are marking seven years of this event and we are proud to move into 2019 with the Taste serving as an annual memorial event celebrating the life of Nick Haines. We are so appreciative of the support we receive from Friendly Spirits and the many restaurants, caterers, and bakeries who return year-after-year to donate their talents and time to NOW. Likewise, we were thrilled to return to Quinebaug Valley Community College to host the Taste for NOW; we felt so welcomed by Dr. Carlee Drummer and the staff at the college.”