Coupeville’s traditional Strawberry Social supports Jamaa Letu, PET mobility devices

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Coupeville United Methodist Church held a Strawberry Social. This summer event brought together its community in support of Jamaa Letu Orphanages and Personal Energy Transportation tricycles that help provide mobility for people in developing countries.

By Suzanne Wallis | Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, Hope for the Children of Africa.

“Yes, Virginia, this is your grandmother’s Strawberry Social!”

Coupeville, Wash. – Tradition is the cornerstone of our church here in the tiny town of Coupeville. While we strive to improve things; to find the most efficient ways to communicate with each other and get everything done, some things are not meant to be tampered with or upgraded.

We understand this in Coupeville. Folks come here because it is so sleepy, so retro, so “unimproved”. We know that our annual Strawberry Social, an event that has been enjoyed by our community since the year 1880, isn’t one of the things that need updating.

The 240 pounds of fresh strawberries are purchased from a local farm, and are processed by volunteers here at the church. The scones are made by hand. Some years back, we added the options of substituting a waffle, ice cream, or a gluten-free scone as the base, but other than that, we adhere to tradition. The strawberries are heaped on, along with homemade whipped cream if you’d like it. Beverages are included in the $7.00 price.

Folks buy a ticket, have a seat, and their treats are delivered to them by waiters and waitresses, every one of whom is wearing a frilly apron. All volunteers wear red, and sometimes the “CUMC Strawberry” outfit is donned by a member who hits the street to promote our event. There is usually live music, performed by members of the congregation, friends, or family members.

A young person is displaying the use of a PET, or Personal Energy Transportation tricycle.

This is just one way in which our church reaches out to help those in need. In keeping with tradition, all proceeds of the $2100 profit will benefit missionaries in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and an orphanage in Jamaa Letu. We will also be supporting the distribution of Personal Energy Transportation (PET) Mobility Devices in developing countries. These projects– all worlds away from strawberries, pink lemonade and ice cream – help us to spread God’s love through the sharing of our bounty.

On July 1st of this year, the laughter and conversation of over 400 people filled our Fellowship Hall. People returned – as they do year after year – for an event that they say reminds them of their childhood. This is what we do best in our sleepy little town on Whidbey Island…we bring people together to celebrate in the simplest possible way.

Yes, Virginia, this is your grandmother’s Strawberry Social, and it was held here at Coupeville United Methodist Church on July 1st. We hope to see you next year!


Suzanne Wallis serves as the Church Life coordinator for Coupeville UMC.

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