In 1999, the state of North Carolina and the Eastern European country Moldova entered into a partnership that has endured the years. Local Wilmington advocates, who have seen firsthand the beauty – as well as the poverty – in this country, want to bring a taste of its culture to this area while improving quality of life abroad.
Retired medical librarian and Wilmington East Rotary Club member Donna Flake hopes The Moldovan Food and Wine Tasting on Jan. 18 will not only showcase that culture but raise money for a life-saving cause.
The event is a fundraiser for a grant that would establish medical libraries in Moldova, along with equipping them with the proper resources, including books, computers, furniture and health educator presentations to educate the citizens.
“The idea for the grant is to work with seven libraries in Moldova to establish health education rooms and materials for the major causes of death (heart disease, diabetes, stroke and now COVID) in Moldova,” Flake said.
The long-standing history of friendship and assistance with Moldova has been nurtured by N.C. Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, who has been leading the charge. As a result of her efforts, Marshall will be the mistress of ceremonies for the January fundraiser.
The grant, which comes from Rotary International, costs $63,000, and $20,000 has been raised thus far.
Along with authentic Moldovan, small food tastings, there will be Moldovan dancers, Eastern European music, a silent auction and plenty of Moldovan wines for sampling and purchase.
Company Deluxe Wines and Spirits, out of Raleigh, will supply the Moldovan wine, which is typically rare to find in the U.S. and surprisingly unique, according to Flake.
“The topsoil [in Moldova] is 10-feet-thick filled, and with the Black Sea there, the winds carry wonderful nutrients into the soil,” she said. “The taste of the wine is kind of different but really absolutely delicious. People need to not miss it.”
Flake has visited Moldova eight times, and Marshall has been more than 20. They both have a passion for helping the country and want to share that passion with the community through this cultural event.
“Twenty years ago, [then-]N.C. Gov. Hunt and the president of Moldova – the poorest Eastern European country and the size of Maryland – entered a bilateral agreement for international partnership,” Flake said. “They asked me in 2006 to set up a partnership with North Carolina medical libraries and the one medical university in [Moldova’s] capital city.”
Moldova, which at the time only had two shelves of 20-year-old medical books in Russian, received phenomenal support and resources to rectify the situation.
“We were able to send 350,000 current medical books and journals,” Flake said. “It’s greatly improved the health care.”
Since that time, the endeavor has expanded, and Flake’s goal is to do even more.
“When I retired in February 2020, I was brainstorming and thought we should do something even bigger,” she said. “They came up with this idea. In America, we have consumer health libraries for the general public to learn about health, and the idea for a grant came about to help Moldova.”
Tickets to the Moldova Food and Wine Tasting are $50, and all proceeds support the Rotary International grant. The event will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Hannah Block Historic USO and Community Arts Center, 120 S. 2nd St. in Wilmington.
For more information, to purchase tickets or sponsorships or donate to the silent auction, contact Flake at 233-7835 or email her at [email protected]