If You Have Two Pumpkins

Family gathering enjoying lunch with activities at a farm
November 09, 2023
Opportunity Northeast

On a sunny and surprisingly warm Sunday – especially for the middle of October – families from Gonzaga Family Haven visited a small farm outside Elk for lunch and a day of “happiness, memories, opportunity, a great today and real hope for a better tomorrow,” as described by Pat Clelland, farm owner and resident district manager of Sodexo Food Services.

Held on October 15, the Pumpkin Fest was an opportunity for the Clelland family, Sodexo’s ZagDining, Gonzaga’s Center for Community Engagement (CCE), and the Gonzaga Family Haven to provide families a space to celebrate the changing of the seasons and enjoy an afternoon of fun. Parents and children had a delightful day at the pumpkin patch enjoying various activities like hayrides, petting farm animals, painting pumpkins, and enjoying delicious treats.

The idea for the event was rooted in a desire to give back. “I see places in our area that have amazing fall festivals and events – and quite frankly are out of reach financially for many people in our community,” explained Clelland. “My partner Claire and our daughter Cassidy are grateful and fortunate to have a small farm where we can create an event space to offer an experience to families who may not otherwise be able to afford or drive to. It’s a great feeling to leverage our family resources and do for other what others have done for me and my family growing up.”

A group of people holding pumpkins and smiling
Thank you ZagDining for providing time and resources in supporting the Pumpkin Fest!

Clelland remembers his parents working hard to put food on the table and create meaningful experiences, but it was through the additional support of community, shared resources, and support during tough times that allowed their family to thrive. Now older and in a more fortunate position in life, Clelland wanted to provide a day of hope and fun to Haven families in situations similar to where he had been once.

“The Sodexo crew have kind of fallen in love with our families,” said Peggy Huan-McEwen, director of Gonzaga Family Haven. ZagDining has catered a few large events at the Haven, including a Christmas banquet and a taco bar during the summer.

The Pumpkin Fest was another opportunity to give Haven families a positive day they won’t forget. “Pat and his family had created a hayride, a hay maze, they had catered lunch, face painting, pumpkin painting. It was a full pumpkin patch experience. The families loved it. They kept saying over and over, ‘We got to make memories today.’”

“To give back, to have a lot of fun for a day with folks who may not have the opportunity to do it, to partner with Gonzaga Family Haven, GU CCE, and Sodexo in the same spirit that I remember others doing for me when I was growing up – that’s what it’s all about,” said Clelland. “It’s a great feeling to do for others what others have done for me and my family growing up. It harkens the passage: ‘If you have two coats, or pumpkins, give one away!’”

Efforts such as these are part of Opportunity Northeast, Gonzaga’s place-based community initiative dedicated to improving the quality of life for individuals, youth, and families in Northeast Spokane while creating transformative learning opportunities for Gonzaga’s students, faculty, and staff.

The Pumpkin Fest is just one example of the way community partners can come together and share resources to foster a space to create lifelong memories for young children and cultivate hope for the future.

Gonzaga's initiative uplifts Northeast Spokane through transformative learning experiences for the community and university members.
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