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Sunday July 12th, 2015

Posted at 10:00am

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When they opened their business just over a year ago, they promised themselves they would give the community back just as much support as they received.

George Kalivas and Sylvia Gounakis, co-owners of Windsor’s Dry Parlour, have been business partners since April 2014 and have already gone to great lengths to benefit their community by co-hosting their second annual fundraiser for Windsor Family Respite Services Saturday evening.

“Before we opened, we kind of made an agreement that if we could pay our bills and it was going well off the start that we would do something to give back to the community, charity wise, and we thought about doing a cool event like this,” said Kalivas. “We knew we wanted to do it outside so we just went with a white party, kind of like those Miami themed parties they have in South Beach all the time. We pretty much brought South Beach and the Hampton’s to Windsor.”

With music by DJ’s Chilly N’Dio with live percussion, Battle of the Hors d’Oeuvres winner Chef Jim and the theme of White Everything, the duo set up a party to raise funds for Windsor Family Respite Services.

“We provide support to about 900 families who have children with disabilities and the proceeds from tonight are going to provide direct support so that families can have a caregiver for their child which gives them a little short break and allows the children to be involved in activities during the summer and year round in the community,” said Windsor Family Respite Services executive director Catharine Shanahan.

Shanahan has been involved with the organization for 25 years and said helping families and children with disabilities is her passion and it is a wonderful organization to be involved with.

With the organization in mind, the business team set forth to find the perfect location to host their party – that’s where the Willistead came in.

“We have such a great location in Walkerville,” said Willistead co-owner Mark Boscariol. “We’re always looking for something that’s a little bit unique, a little bit different, to set us apart from everybody else and this really fit that bill. Personally, it makes me proud working with a charity … We worked with them simply because it was a good cause and they run a great business.”

Last year the team was discouraged when they only raised $1,000, which they believe was partially because when they began promoting the event, their business was still very new to the community. This year however, their hopes are high being as they’ve established a close connection with the Windsor community. Both Kalivas and Gounakis agreed they felt like they owed it to Windsor to give it another go because the community has helped build them up so much. They are looking forward to making the event an annual one.

“Today one of our clients broke out in tears and was thanking us and saying how much she appreciates it and how if it wasn’t for Windsor Family Respite she wouldn’t be able to get by so it’s a huge deal,” said Kalivas. “I just feel like you don’t have to be a fortune 500 company to give back to the community or to raise money – we’re a small business. Anybody can do their part. I feel like it would be great if a lot of other small businesses followed in our footsteps.”

Dry Parlour co-owners George Kalivas and Sylvia Gounakis.

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