Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Photo by Dee Griffith
Mothers, daughters, grandmothers and friends enjoy the Mother’s Day Tea hosted by the cultural and social committee at Villa International on May 10. The annual event is a fundraiser for Villa’s ministry to international students and researchers studying at the CDC and Emory University.


Mother’s Day fundraiser a hit for Villa International

By JEAN DRISKELL, Special to the Bulletin | Published June 12, 2014

ATLANTA—Grandmothers, mothers and daughters, many dressed in their Sunday best, some wearing hats, attended the 12th annual Mother’s Day Tea fundraiser at Villa International Atlanta.

The festive event, sponsored by Villa’s cultural and social committee, was held on Saturday, May 10.

The tea is a time for “our women volunteers to be honored,” Camille Gaffron, executive director of Villa, said. “The majority of the food is homemade. There are savory and sweet finger foods and it is all donated. We usually raise around $2,000 each year.”

The room was set up with tables of six or eight, with a capacity of nearly 100.

“Committee members host the tables. They bring their own fine china, flatware, teapots, tablecloths, napkins and centerpieces. The food is donated. Villa does not provide any expenses for this event,” said Greta Burns, chair of the cultural and social committee.

The host of each table makes sure tea is available for her guests, pours the tea, and provides the savory and sweet dishes. Each year there is also a light program.

Burns said they have had an international fashion show, artists have presented their artwork and jewelry designers have shown their pieces.

This year’s program featured the pottery of Susan Bach, an artist from Orlando, Florida, who displayed teapots, cups, plates and mugs. Proceeds from the sales also benefited Villa.

“I’m trained in both painting and pottery, but I enjoy pottery and find it very therapeutic,” Bach said. She started doing miniature pottery items, black paint designs on a white background, three years ago.

“I love the tea. It’s beautiful and lovely to see mothers, grandmothers, and their little girls here. It’s a nice get-together,” she said.

The savory finger foods included mixed fruit; cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches; scones made of goat cheese and sun-dried tomatoes; chicken salad in phyllo cups; and tarts filled with zucchini, mushrooms, and goat cheese. The sweets included lemon tea cakes; cookies, designed as tea bags, dipped in chocolate; mini pumpkin spice and chocolate chip muffins; powdered lemon shortcake cookies; and chocolate bonbons.

During the tea, Mitchell Fenbert, a University of Georgia student, provided jazz and classical music.

Villa International is a residence for international students and researchers who work, study, or do research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or attend Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health.

Gaffron said, “Villa has been here for 42 years and we have had 25,000 (residents) stay here from 147 different countries. It’s the women from various churches/denominations that help keep Villa working.”

Gaffron described the three goals of Villa as welcoming the stranger; helping the hurting in the world, by providing a place for the residents; and peacemaking, as residents from various nations and backgrounds share meals with each other, celebrate joyous occasions or comfort those whose research did not pan out or who receive sad news from home.

“We try to make Villa as homelike as possible,” Gaffron said.

Deirdre Holler, of Corpus Christi Church, Stone Mountain, the immediate past chair of the cultural and social committee, said the tea “continues to grow.”

“It’s a lovely affair and they do such a wonderful job,” Gloria Moss said. “I’ve been coming ever since they started and look forward to it every year. Wonderful facility and a wonderful service.”


This article corrects the identification of the host committee for the Mother’s Day Tea as Villa International’s cultural and social committee. In the print edition, the committee was incorrectly described.