Owner of Irie Zulu, Yollande Tchouapi Deacon Provides Pre-Thanksgiving Hot Meals for 200 Families at Tosa Cares' Event

Owner of Irie Zulu, Yollande Tchouapi Deacon Provides Pre-Thanksgiving Hot Meals for 200 Families at Tosa Cares' Event

Celia Brown and Tyshek Frazier are happy to join in on the festivities. (Picture by Nyesha Stone)

Community member Tyshek Frazier has been coming to Tosa Cares’ events for a few years and it’s the staff and hospitality that brings her back each time. And this time she brought her cousin Celia Brown to Tosa Cares’ Pre-Thanksgiving meal earlier this morning at 8 a.m. at Mt. Zion Lutheran Church, 12012 W. North Ave.

Tosa Cares is a Wauwatosa food pantry that holds a variety of events to make sure the community stays fed.

“People are in need of food,” said Frazier. “[Tosa Cares] gives from the heart and that means a lot.”

African and Jamaican dishes, such as peanut stew and rice, curry chicken, South African curry vegetables and plantain were served to community members. (Picture by Nyesha Stone)

Frazier and Brown both agree that it’s really the staff who make every event warm and welcoming.

Although the morning had just begun, the two women had glowing smiles on their face, and were eager to enjoy in all that the event had to offer, such as free massages, and free food.

Owner of Irie Zulu, a local restaurant that specializes in African and Jamaican cuisine, Yollande Tchouapi Deacon has been serving hot meals for this event for three years.

As an immigrant from Africa, Deacon says it’s her duty to spread love.

“Africa is a culture of love,” said Deacon. “My love and passion comes from struggle.”

Nineteen years ago, Deacon came to America through a college scholarship where she attended Marquette University. During her stay, she stayed with one of the school’s Deans for a year for free.

Deacon said she’s received so much from people she didn’t know, so giving back to others she doesn’t know is her way of making a small impact.

“This is my way to break barriers,” she said.

Yollande Tchouapi Deacon can’t help but to smile when she speaks about the community and giving back. (Picture by Nyesha Stone)

As the owner of a restaurant, Deacon says food is a way to reach others. She’s encountered multiple people who’ve said they haven’t had a hot meal in months, so being able to provide a meal from scratch—made with love—is something she will continue to do.

“I think they feel the love of people. It’s about touching hearts,” Deacon said. “Everything I do is around love.”

Through her food, Deacon is bringing African and Jamaican culture straight into Wisconsin.

She brought a variety of food such as curry chicken, South African curry vegetables and plantains.

Aside from the food, Tosa Cares has been doing this type of event for 10 years.

According to Linda Ertel, board member of Tosa Cares, said Tosa Cares was originally Tosa for Kids.

The very first year they helped four families, and through their sponsorships, their entire operation has drastically changed, but the meaning behind it hasn’t.

“When things are a little tough,” Ertel said. “There are people in the community that cares.”

After community members ate their hot meals, they were called by numbers to go into a room and pick out a variety of food items to take home. Guests had to already be registered with Tosa Cares, and every single slot was filled this year. Tosa Cares is also providing families with a turkey and stuffing, potatoes, cranberries, pumpkin, muffin and cake mix.

Thanks to sponsors, community members were able to take free food home. (Picture by Nyesha Stone)

Thanks to sponsors, community members were able to take free food home. (Picture by Nyesha Stone)

When each guest had registered, they put down their family size and if they had any dietary concerns. Through that, Tosa Cares and its volunteers put together small, medium and large boxes filled with basic foods, such as pasta, rice, canned goods, and a few other items.

The small box feeds one to two people, the medium box feeds three to four people and the large box feeds five to six.

And once the families received their boxes and put them in the car, they were allowed to enter into the basement to pick out Christmas decorations.

Most of the community members who partake in Tosa Cares’ events come from poverty, so when they enter into Tosa Cares’ care, they can forget about their situation for a few hours.

Tosa Cares also provides hygiene products and clothes to families in need.

Everything was free to the community members.

To find out more about Tosa Cares visit their site, and make sure to visit Irie Zulu at 7237 W. North Ave.

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