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Miss Ruby’s Kids: Kitchen tour raises funds for literacy program
By Emily Topper
Nestled in Wachesaw Plantation, Stephanie and Larry Diaz’s 1988 home has undergone a complete transformation since the couple began work on it in March.
The former galley kitchen has had a wall knocked out to include quartz countertops and white cabinetry centered around an island, the couple’s favorite part of their renovated space.
“The original kitchen was a galley, and the rest of the kitchen was the dining room,” Stephanie Diaz said. “I’m from this area, so I wanted it to be a little coastal. We wanted it to have calm, soothing colors, but I like little pops here and there. I’ll be cooking dinner and my husband will be sitting. We’ll have a bottle of wine out and he’ll be talking to me while I’m cooking dinner. It’s very nice.”
The couple is opening up their kitchen to the public Saturday for the sixth annual Miss Ruby’s Kids Kitchen Tour, a fundraiser for the nonprofit engaged in early-childhood education.
The tour includes seven homes in Wachesaw, North Litchfield and DeBordieu.
The tour check-in at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church is also the site of an arts and crafts fair for the nonprofit as well as the church’s Apple Dumpling Festival.
Joan Kreikemeier, a Miss Ruby’s volunteer, said the annual event is a great way to support a nonprofit that transforms the lives of children by going into the home. “This is the only nonprofit in the area that does home visits for children,” she said. “Mostly, it tries to prepare the parents for how to read to their children and how to help them love reading.”
An estimated 300 children are born at risk of school failure in Georgetown County each year, according to the nonprofit. Home visits are done with children between the ages of 2 and 3 for two years to prepare them for kindergarten and elementary school.
Diaz has toured kitchens before, but this is the first time hers has been part of the Miss Ruby’s tour. She was recruited by her friend Sue Tonzola, who serves on the board of Miss Ruby’s Kids.
The Diaz family will also allow guests to tour the bottom floor of their home.
“When she asked to put the house on tour, we were still very much under construction,” Diaz said. “The landscaping just got done last week. We were very honored that we were asked to join in and help them raise money.”
Tonzola said families who benefit from the program may not otherwise get support for their children without the help of the nonprofit.
“Some of the kids’ parents can’t read, their grandparents don’t know how to read,” Tonzola said.
“It opens up a world of opportunity for these kids. If you want to read, and you like to read, you’re going to be successful. It’s giving these kids a head start to do well in school, to read, to like school.”
Tonzola’s home in Wachesaw Plantation is also on the tour. She recruited her new neighbors, Stephanie and Jeff Black, to put their kitchen on display as well. The Blacks recently relocated from Manning, and have been in their home in Wachesaw Plantation for about 12 weeks.
“We wanted a little bit of the unexpected,” Stephanie Black said. “We wanted the whole house and the kitchen to look like it had been here forever, as part of the neighborhood, but yet have a few unexpected things inside.”
The Black’s kitchen includes ceiling beams from a French barn, an extended kitchen island, glass cabinet doors to show off dishes and a Dutch hutch that was one of the first pieces the couple bought together.
At the time Tonzola asked the couple to participate in the tour, their kitchen was still under construction. “The kitchen at that time was still under a lot of work,” Black said. “It was workable, but not showable.” Black went online to read about Miss Ruby’s Kids and decided to participate in the tour. A former school board member in Manning, she said that her own children had some early struggles with reading before participating in a reading recovery program.
“I’m anxious to volunteer after Christmas,” Black said. “It’s well-supported here.”
Check-in at St. Peter’s begins at 10 a.m. The tour runs through 4 p.m.
Tickets are still on sale until the day of the event for $30, at which time they will go up to $35 per person.
Tickets are available online at missrubyskids.net, or by calling 843-527-0277.
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