Submitted by Unity Care NW

Unity Care NW is taking our Annual Gala virtual this year! Once again, we will be partnering with Sustainable Connections and Ciao Thyme during Eat Local Month to highlight the relationship between local food and healthy communities.

Our first-ever virtual Annual Gala will be held on Friday, August 21 (final sign-up date is Monday, August 10th). It will feature a delicious to-go meal prepared by Ciao Thyme that guests can pick up that afternoon and heat and eat later at home, followed by a one-hour virtual event in the evening. We’ll hear from our new Chief Executive Officer Jodi Joyce and enjoy a cooking demonstration by Ciao Thyme. Proceeds from the event will support continued health care access during this challenging time of COVID-19. 

This year’s virtual gala will feature a delicious to-go meal prepared by Ciao Thyme. Photo courtesy Unity Care NW

Eat Local Month is a great time to come together to celebrate the farmers, restaurants, chefs, grocers, fishers, and all the people that are working hard to make sure we are fed and healthy, especially at this challenging time. At Unity Care NW, we are also celebrating our dedicated team who have been working long hours to ensure our patients are safe and healthy during this pandemic.

Ciao Thyme’s owners, Jessica and Mataio Gillis, truly embody the spirit of supporting and eating local. For nearly two decades, they have been partnering with a variety of local farmers, vendors, and crafters to create their delicious dishes. Honoring a true farm-to-table concept, Ciao Thyme celebrates the best that Whatcom County has to offer. As members of Sustainable Connections, they proudly support local, sustainable agriculture by purchasing directly from Whatcom County and Skagit County farmers. Their alliances with independently-owned and -operated businesses, from florists to bakeries and farms to coffee roasters, ensure they have the best local products available. During the current COVID-19 pandemic, they have been working diligently to offer weekly to-go meals through their “Slow the Spread and Keep you Fed” movement. As part of that effort, they also provided food for essential workers, allowing people to purchase quarts of soup that would then be given away to local essential workers. Last year, Mataio took on a new adventure with the Bellingham School District to support operations of the new Central Kitchen to bring unique healthy foods to the schools. 

Unity Care NW is also pleased to be partnering this year with K’UL Chocolate. Located in Bellingham, K’UL Chocolate has made it their mission to operate as a social enterprise to elevate those that work so hard to bring something as cherished as chocolate to our tables. The word K’UL is Mayan for “the energy and interconnectivity between all living things,” and owners Paul Newman and Ari Lee-Newman embrace this concept. They carry on their mission to change the world through chocolate by elevating women, protecting children, and fighting slave labor. They have an unwavering commitment to producing ethically-sourced, direct-trade, hand-crafted, small-batch bean to bar chocolate that uses only organic and Non-GMO ingredients. They have traveled to the farms where their beans come from, developed incredible relationships with these women-run businesses, and come back to Bellingham where they make their delicious chocolates by incorporating local ingredients. This year, they are providing a special treat for Unity Care NW’s Eat Local Virtual Gala. They wanted to make a chocolate bar to say “thank you” and to honor all essential workers around the country. Their Berry Grateful bar is a delicious collaboration bar that starts with organic, direct-trade Peruvian chocolate and is blended with Mutiny Bay Blues dried organic blueberries.

We’d like to thank our sponsors for making this event possible. Sponsors include Community Health Plan of Washington, Chuckanut Health Foundation, PeaceHealth, Arcora, Henry Schein Dental, Quest Diagnostics, RMC Architects, Umpqua Bank, Minuteman Press, Molina Healthcare, Mount Baker Imaging, Peace Arch Cardiology, and Whatcom Community Foundation, with in-kind support from Ciao Thyme and K’ul Chocolate. 

Tickets are now available through August 10th at

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