“This is your Captain speaking, we are ready for takeoff!”
The theme for this year’s annual fundraiser on September 16th was “Free to Fly” in celebration and affirmation of the women at Gracenter who have broken free of drug and alcohol addiction and are now free to fly to futures filled with possibilities! In keeping with this theme, our guests were invited to wear something that depicts anything that has anything to do with flying.
Our “captain”—aka MC/auctioneer and incredibly talented and dedicated volunteer, Charles Gall—creatively dressed as an airline pilot—immediately caught the attention of the audience and the event did, indeed, take off!
The upbeat music—provided by our DJ, Jamie Larson from Jazcat Mobile Entertainment—kept the energy and enthusiasm high. The silent auction was automated this year—and even went live a few days prior to the event—so guests could begin bidding early, from any location and even bid on multiple items at a time during the luncheon itself, through the convenience of their iPhone. Guests could view and read the description of every item, thanks to the hard work of Shirley Quitugua and Charles Gall. For our less tech savvy guests at the luncheon, there were “super shoppers”—identifiable by their blue capes—who were ready to swoop in and rescue the fumbling fingers in distress!
After a delicious meal, it was time for awards! Sr. Marguerite began this part of the program by acknowledging our sponsors. Next, she introduced our Outstanding Graduate, Pali Boucher, Founder and Executive Director of Rocket Dog Rescue, an all-volunteer organization which has rescued and rehomed over 8,100 animals. Debbie Jackson, our Outstanding Graduate from last year, presented this certificate to Pali, along with Certificates of Recognition from the cities of San Francisco and Oakland.
Our Amazing Grace Award was then presented to Martha Ryan, Founder and Executive Director of Homeless Prenatal Program, for her incredible array of services to homeless mothers to empower them to recognize their strengths and trust in their own capacity to transform their lives. Martha also received a Certificate of Recognition from the City. The Amazing Grace Award and the certificate were presented to Martha by our last year’s awardee, Dr. Mary Ann Jones of Westside Community Services.
Our first ever—and wonderfully exciting—Live Auction was next on the Agenda. Bidding wars were intense and paddles were flying! This was followed by some of our graduates telling their stories of success via a video that was generously produced by Spenser Linney. In response to those stories, a “Fund a Need” appeal was proposed and paddles once again were raised high by many generous guests.
“Captain” Charles then asked Sr. Madeleine to draw the names for the raffle prizes as the final portion of the program. However, the photo booth remained open as there were many who still wanted to take advantage of getting a memorable picture with such a myriad of props—not to mention trying to see how many friends they could cram into one picture!
After the Gala Luncheon, Gracenter itself hosted an Open House—only 11 minutes away—to welcome friends old and new and to thank all our guests for their generous participation and willingness to try so many new things at this event. As a consequence, this Gala was the most successful ever and we are exceedingly grateful to all who participated in creating, planning, implementing, attending and spending! We pray for blessings on them all!