Gala Celebration: 20th Anniversary of Local Habitat Affiliate
The curtain is set to go up on a whole week of events noting the 20th anniversary of the local Habitat for Humanity affiliate.
The celebration is to be topped off by a "grand and glorious" gala on Saturday evening, May 10, at the Carolina Hotel.
The 20th observance coincides with the building of the 150th Habitat for Humanity home that has been constructed with volunteer labor in the Sandhills.
Chaired by Sally Brown, the gala committee is putting the finishing touches on an evening to be remembered. Brown's first contact with Habitat was two years ago, when a friend encouraged her to come and help out during a Building Blitz week in Pinebluff.
"I didn't do any of the construction, but I hauled water and supplies for the volunteer builders," says Brown. "I got caught up in the Habitat spirit, so when they cornered me and asked me to serve as chair of the 20th anniversary gala, I was honored to be selected. It's great to have the chance to work with the wonderful staff and the many dedicated volunteers who have come forward to serve on the committee."
The gala, which became an annual event 10 years ago, is the largest fundraiser of the year for the Habitat organization. Last year, four houses were built with funds raised at the gala, and expectations are high to match, and even surpass, that record this year.
The 20th Anniversary Gala begins at 5:30 p.m. in the hotel's Cardinal Ballroom with cocktails and hors d'oeuvres, and the opportunity for the guests to view, and bid on, the items that have been gathered for the silent auction. Among the more impressive are destination packages to homes on Pawley's Island, Topsail Island and Whalehead Beach.
Other experiences to be awarded to the highest bidder are a round of golf at some of the best courses in the Sandhills, one night's stay and dinner at the Jefferson Inn -- perfect for an out-of-town guest, as well as a dinner party at Rhett's in Southern Pines, and dinner and wine for 10 catered in your home by the Country Club of North Carolina. Of course, there is an attractive selection of golf memorabilia, artwork from area artists and enticing articles from local boutiques.
Of special interest to grandparents is a delightful child's playhouse, built by a construction crew volunteer. A separate sandbox made by another volunteer is on the silent auction list, too. Both of these items have been painted by a crew of four volunteers. In fact, many of the features of the celebration are a result of contributions of time, energy and materials. by volunteers. It is the foundation on which the organization itself is based.
Following the cocktail hour, the evening moves to the Grand Ballroom for dinner and dancing to the sounds of the Bill Bohlen Band of Chapel Hill. Businessman Nick Brown is handling the emcee chores for the ever-popular Heads and Tails event, an audience participation game with the winner being awarded a two-night stay at The Cloister on Sea Island.
"The evening is a true celebration for all the devoted and committed volunteers Habitat has attracted over the last 20 years," Brown says. "It is a time of coming together to remember all that has been accomplished, and to look to the next two decades as well."
The gala committee, aided by staff member and events planner Emily Ross, has been a significant part of the planning and implementation process for the event, doing everything from getting out a mailing to ticket buyers listing the various auction items to arranging the floral centerpieces for the tables to soliciting the auction items. Sally Brown comments:
"We received a remarkable response from the business community and service clubs this year, not only for donations to the silent auction, but also by providing sponsorships for the event."
"The gala is being underwritten by Pinehurst Resorts and First Bank, so together with the other sponsorships, all the costs are covered," says Emily Ross. "This means that every single dollar raised through ticket sales and at the event will go toward building more homes."
One of six AmeriCorps members currently on staff at Habitat for Humanity of Moore County, Emily Ross, and co-AmeriCorps member, Erin Blanke, have played an important role in the 20th anniversary celebration. AmeriCorps is a domestic community service program that provides year-long opportunities for young adults from all over the country who want to make a difference.
Ross and Blanke took on the jobs assigned to them by Habitat for Humanity of Moore County and applied their knowledge and skills to make a real difference. Ross, an Alabama resident, graduated from Auburn College, where she served on the student activities board for four years, giving her expertise in event planning.
Blanke worked in the corporate world for a year in her native Ohio after graduating from college, and found it was an awkward fit. Her specialty is in public relations, and she is responsible for much of the Habitat for Humanity insert that recently appeared in The Pilot.
Both of them say they are enthusiastic about the week-long anniversary schedule of activities that has been put in place.
Starting Monday, May 5, with a tour of Habitat homes, and going through a "Help Build It" workday on Wednesday, May 7, several events are set for each weekday, concluding with a birthday party at Southern Pines' Douglass Community center on Friday, May 9, and of course the special gala celebration on Saturday evening.
For more information on the house tours, contact Nancy DeVine, or to pre-register as a participant for the "Help Build It" work day, contact Judie Wiggins. And to reserve a ticket ($125) for the gala, call Emily Ross before May 7. The telephone number for all three women is 295-1934.
Contact Pinehurst freelance writer Mary Elle Hunter at email@example.com.
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