Rivers of Chocolate: A Great Event for an even Greater Cause


A Sweet Charity

Making my way up to the Mountain Winery through the lush green hills of Saratoga, it was evident that Silicon Valley is not only rich in natural beauty, but many of the residents who live here are as well. However, while passing the mini-mansions tucked away in their fairytale-like landscapes, I couldn’t help but think about the irony as I made no ordinary drive through the redwood tree-lined road up the mountain. My final destination was the 14th annual Rivers of Chocolate festival benefiting EHC LifeBuilders, a charity that helps the homeless of Silicon Valley.

EHC LifeBuilders is a non-profit organization that was established in 1980. Their goal, through their popular charity event and live auction,  is to raise money so that the organization can provide shelter, housing opportunities, and support services to homeless families and individuals living in Silicon Valley.

In its 14th year run, the Rivers of Chocolate festival put on by EHC LifeBuilders and hosted at the majestic Mountain Winery in Saratoga, has not only been a great opportunity for bay area residents to experience some of the greater things in life, i.e. chocolaty confections, generous food delicacies, and a plethora of fine wines, but it is also a cause that is run, and attended by people with very big hearts and compassion for their fellow man, woman, and child. This year’s tasty event was held on April 25, 2010.

As guests arrived, they were greeted by both the breathtaking views of  the valley below and by the events’ volunteers. Each guest was given a special wine glass engraved with the EHC logo, for their use on their journey through the assortment of various wine tastings on display. As a bonus, their wine glass doubled as a souvenir as a remembrance of this wonderful event.

With wine glass in hand, guests then prepared themselves to go on a food Odyssey as they made their way through all the kiosks, while vendors offered a multitude of irresistible chocolates, pastries, hors d’oeuvres, and gelato, along with sophisticated wine selections and refreshing beer and spirits.

In addition to all the tasty treats, guests were also treated to live music and plenty of California sun.

As a self-proclaimed chocolate lover myself, I was overwhelmed by the abundance of chocolate exhibits at every turn. Although I could not taste every alluring chocolate that I encountered, the ones I did taste proved the event’s slogan: a true fantasy for your palate.

The vendors that take part in this charity event are also an important key to its success. Not only do they have the opportunity to showcase their culinary talents, but they do so by preparing and donating their special food and drink items to the guests of the event on behalf of the worthy cause.

Equally as important were the sponsors and businesses that offered their financial support and items for the live auction. Some of this year’s big auction items included a Smart car; a five day/four night stay at a luxury cabin in Tahoe City; two scooters and an electric mountain bike from Scooterland US; and a vacation house rental on the island of Kauai for 6 days and 7 nights.

With all the wonderful food and auction items on display, it was easy for guests to get lost in the plenitude of the luxuries at hand. But they were quickly reminded of the purpose for the event when a family that received help from the organization was invited to share their story. A mother of two boys explained how she and her family went from almost being homeless to currently owning their own home, thanks to the help of EHC LifeBuilders. The reality is is that many people are usually hesitant to donate to charities because they do not know if the money they give is received by the right persons, but meeting the people who benefit from this event and hearing their real-life experiences, was a great way for the benefactors to see firsthand the charity’s success in action.

I personally believe that no human being should ever experience homelessness, and EHC LifeBuilders are helping build the lives of people who are, or are on the brink of being just that; homeless.

If you ever wanted to get involved with a charity or volunteer your services, EHC LifeBuilders is a great one to consider. And, if you never attended the Rivers of Chocolate festival, this is one charitable event that cannot be missed. Not only will you be helping an honorable cause, you will also experience all the delicious foods, desserts, and wines that bay area vendors have to offer. A true win, win situation for all.

For more information about EHC LifeBuilders,

or the Rivers of Chocolate festival, please visit:



Photography courtesy of Sophia M. Papadopoulos


I was unaware of the EHC LifeBuilders. It's good to know that such organizations exist. Thank you for sharing your experience. Your photos do an amazing job of capturing the essence of chocolate.

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