For over 15 years, two words have signified that Christmas is approaching for Romaine Pacheco: Vino y Chocolate. Pacheco, who now serves as the director at the Community Outreach and Office of Boards and Commissions for the office of Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, helped to start the Vino y Chocolate event.
The idea started over 20 years ago when Pacheco and Sister Alicia Cuaron joined forces with the hopes of bringing the community together to celebrate Christmas. That celebration was also meant to help raise money for charitable organizations. Today, Vino y Chocolate is the epitome of what Christmas is about – family, enjoying others and compassion.
This year’s Vino y Chocolate event will be held this Saturday on Dec. 7 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Holy Family Parish, located at 4358 Utica St. Those who attend are asked to donate an unwrapped present that is intended for children ages three months to eight years old. The presents will be donated to El Groupo Vida, an organization that assists people with disabilities or special needs, their parents and their families.
“It’s an event to celebrate the Christmas season. I don’t say holiday season, because this is about Christmas,” said Pacheco. “This is about the birth of Christ. This is about remembering what the season is which is being with friends and families, helping each other and providing help to those who might not have a Christmas season. That was the whole intent. To bring people together to celebrate Christmas.”
Pacheco said a big part of the event is the atmosphere. Tables are decorated with holiday themes, culturally relevant table settings, children tables and a table decorated and sponsored by the Colorado Rockies. Each year, Vino y Chocolate typically has 20 to 25 tables, according to Pacheco. Along with seeing decorative tables, food and beverages will be offered, which obviously includes wine and chocolate.
Pacheco said the first Vino y Chocolate event gathered around 60 people. Today, the event has surpassed that number.
“You see friends connecting with each other. You hear people say they haven’t seen each other in forever,” said Pacheco. “It’s sharing wine, chocolates and giving people an opportunity to see something pretty and maybe take those ideas home. It gets you into the spirit of the Christmas season.”
If attendees can’t bring a gift, a contribution to the Sister Alicia Education fund at Centro San Juan Diego is appreciated. Centro San Juan Diego offers numerous classes to the community like language lessons, financial education, computer education, small business classes and a UPAEPA online bachelor’s program. The Sister Alicia Education fund was created to honor Sister Cuaron and to support family services and programs at Centro San Juan Diego. Around 5,000 Hispanics reach out to the organization for services each year.
If you are interested in attending the event, RSVP to VYCDenver@gmail.com.