Former Hagerstown resident, celebrity chef Justin Warner, makes appearance at fundraiser
Bonnie Rice waits as Food Network personality Justin Warner, a former Hagerstown resident, considers his message before he autographs her program Sunday during a Come to the Table fundraiser at LJ's & the Kat Lounge in Hagerstown. (By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer / September 9, 2012)
The former Hagerstown resident won “The Next Food Network Star” in July, and now he said he wants to start giving back to the community that made him who he his.
Warner spread his joviality at a Sunday afternoon event at LJ’s and the Kat Lounge, where Washington County Community Mediation Center supporters paid $60 per ticket as a fundraiser for the agency.
The center provides free mediation for those in the community who are having difficulty in a variety of situations such as relationships, neighbor disputes, and problems between parent and teens, said center Director Jack Carpenter.
In the last couple years, the center’s caseload has tripled, Carpenter said.
“Honestly, there is no end in sight. We are just scratching the surface,” Carpenter said Sunday.
Carpenter said the center receives local and state funding, but its state funding has been cut by about $40,000.
Carpenter said about 90 people were expected at Sunday’s fundraiser, which also included a silent auction.
Warner smiled and laughed with local folks as a line of people waited to meet him inside the local restaurant off Conrad Court.
Warner said he decided to help the Washington County Community Mediation Center because he is a friend of Dave Gysberts, who is on the center’s board of directors.
Warner said he thinks the mediation center plays a vital role in the community, and people who benefit from it then “take Hagerstown elsewhere” as they go into the world.
“It produces cool people,” Warner said of Hagerstown.