Port Edward hosts dinner buffet to raise money for Turkey earthquake victims
What had been a planned trip for one Lake in the Hills couple to visit their homeland of Istanbul on Monday is now a trip to bring aid to those left in the rubble caused by the Feb. 6 earthquakes in Turkey and Syria.
On Sunday, Ziya Senturk, vice president of operations and general manager of Port Edward Restaurant in Algonquin, is hosting a banquet-style buffet at the restaurant. All of the proceeds will go directly to the Turkish American Cultural Alliance.
Those funds then will be given to the Ahbap Association, which the Lake in the Hills couple described as a trusted charitable organization in Turkey -- its name meaning a close friend in Turkish -- to buy whatever necessities are needed as well as prefabricated container homes. Each container, used to temporarily shelter those left in the rubble, costs between $5,000 and $7,000, they said.
The cost of Sunday's dinner is $50 a person, and seating times are hourly from 3 until 7 p.m. The restaurant is at 20 W. Algonquin Road. For tickets, call (847) 658-5441 or visit portedward.com/charity.
Ziya Senturk and his wife, Tulay Senturk, met in Istanbul, married and moved to Marengo in 1990.
They returned to their homeland in 1997 and lived through the 1999 earthquake in Turkey, which killed more than 17,000 people, before returning to McHenry County for good.
"My wife was devastated, scared," Ziya Senturk recalled. "She said, 'Let's go back home.' "
Although they returned to settle in McHenry County, they have continued to financially support the region and have regularly made donations to those in need in Turkey, which might not have ever faced a need as big as this.
Ziya Senturk said the recent earthquakes brought back memories of what happened in 1999.
"It is why we want to do something to help those who are suffering," he said.
As of Friday, about 100 reservations were made, but Ziya Senturk said he is preparing to serve about 400 diners. The event also will include raffles and auctions, with donations from the Algonquin/Lake in the Hills Chamber of Commerce, the Algonquin Rotary Club and the Cary-Grove Chamber of Commerce.
Ziya Senturk said many customers know he is from the region and have been asking how they can help, which led to Sunday's event.
Although the Senturks do not have immediate relatives who were killed in the earthquake, they have distant relatives whose families have been killed. They talk daily to people on-site in Turkey who speak of the mass destruction and death, they said.
"It happened at 4 a.m.; everyone was sleeping," Ziya Senturk said. "Nobody knows how many are dead."
The numbers being reported are just the bodies of the people who have been recovered.
As of Thursday, The Associated Press reported that the combined death toll had surpassed 42,000 people in Turkey and Syria.
Dr. Tanveer Ahmad, president of the Islamic Center of McHenry County in Crystal Lake, said he will be in attendance Sunday to support the Senturks' efforts and donate to the earthquake victims.
He has known Ziya Senturk for 27 years and described him as "a good person."
On Friday at the mosque, Ahmad said he announced Sunday's fundraiser and led the gathering of more than 70 people -- including more children than normal -- in prayer for the earthquake victims.
Although he has not been affected personally by the earthquake, he said this is a time for people from all communities to come together in financial support and prayer for those who are suffering.
He added that children may be even more affected by news of the earthquake.
"(Adults) are older, and we have reconciled with our mortality ... but they are at the beginning of their life," Ahmad said. "They are more affected and need support of their elders. They need to know that this is OK -- this is a part of life, and we hope it doesn't happen, but if it does, we have to (pull) ourselves together and reassure them. That is very important."
A natural calamity like an earthquake can happen anywhere to anyone at any time in any form and shape, and there is only so much one country can do, Ahmad said. He also noted that it is winter in the quake-stricken region, and many people are now homeless.
"We have to come together ourselves as one humanity ... one community living on this earth, supporting those people," Ahmad said.
Tulay Senturk said they have sent money, clothing and other necessities to Turkey for many years, "long before the earthquake, but now everything has shifted."
The couple leaves Monday for their trip, said Ziya Senturk, who learned Friday that the mosque in Lake in the Hills raised $9,000 for the fundraiser.
He said he has no concerns about the trip. Instead, he feels blessed that God has given him the "opportunity" and "great fortune" to be able to help.