Published on July 7th, 2023 | by University Communications


Dining Services’ Lavalle creates handmade gift for ABCU leaders

When the university recently hosted the Association of Benedictine Colleges and Universities Conference, the organization’s leaders received a special gift — a beautiful charcuterie board engraved with the ABCU logo. The serving board was created by Robin Lavalle, Dining Services manager for Saint Leo.

As a token of appreciation, Saint Leo University President Ed Dadez presented Patti Epsky, ABCU executive director, and Trisa Schaeffer, assistant director, with the gift.

Made from the wood of an oak tree from St. Leo, Florida, Dadez said he hopes the gift “can begin a tradition of documenting the name of the host institution on the bottom of the board along with the year of the conference. May ABCU continue to be our strength, stability, and shelter as we advance our institutional missions, educate our students, and spread God’s love.”

Lavalle and her husband teamed to make the gift as he recently purchased a sawmill, and she started a company Dashing Designs, in preparation for their future retirements.

Once the tree was cut, the wood was stored in a dry room until the moisture level reached between 6 percent and 9.5 percent, Lavalle said. “This process takes anywhere from six months to a year, depending on the wood,” she continued. “We use a moisture reader to determine when the wood is dry enough to use. If used before it is dry, the board could warp or crack.”

After drying, they sanded and smoothed the board, then used a laser machine to engrave the logo onto the board. Once the logo was lasered, they cleaned the board and applied food-grade oil to prepare it to be used for serving. The last step was adding handles and polishing the board, Lavalle said.

“The finished product was a gift to ABCU from Saint Leo University for letting us host a great event — the faculty, staff, and leaders were so great,” she added.


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