Put The Fun In Fundraising

In every job that must be done
there is an element of fun

– “Mary Poppins,” the Sherman Brothers

Al Nocita interviewing guests on the red carpet

On Saturday, May 2, the Foothill Unity Center celebrated their 35th birthday at the Noor Event Center’s Ella Ballroom in Pasadena. The birthday celebration may have been a thinly disguised fund raising event, but it had it’s own rationale: Since it was a birthday party, it naturally included presents. It’s just that the presents were given to directly benefit less fortunate San Gabriel Valley residents. And since it was a party, with its roots in tinsel town, it offered fun opportunities to get the guests in a more giving mood. Including a red carpet ceremony.

Betty McWilliams being photographed on the Red Carpet

The fun started even before the doors opened. The entire party was set up as a Hollywood event and the guests were treated like stars. Along with the traditional red carpet, red velvet ropes and shiny metal stanchions, there were cameras and lights. And there was George Pennacchio, the Emmy award-winning entertainment reporter for ABC7 Eyewitness News, Los Angeles. All of the guests were interviewed and had their pictures taken in front of an 8 foot by 10-foot logo banner proclaiming the Foothill Unity Center 35th birthday. Those few minutes in the spotlight not only gave the guests a few moments of added fun and attention, it subtly emphasized their importance in the mission of giving for the evening.

George Pinnachio, Emmy-Award Winning Entertainment Reporter, ABC 7, Los Angeles

Once the doors opened, more than 160 guests were treated to a hosted bar surrounded by a sumptuous collection of silent auction items displayed on blue velvet and sculptured platforms. A model roamed the room showing off a precious stone ring that was the prize in a unique “playing card” raffle. After the cocktail reception and silent auction, came a dinner in a festive party setting, a live auction overseen George Pennacchio. Then came a raucous live auction was conducted by event planner, Al Nocita whose sense of timing and audience engagement had everyone laughing… and more importantly bidding.

Audience at the Foothill Unity Center's 35th Birthday Gala cheering the winning bid

After the evening’s spirited and enthusiastic bidding during the live auction, which included a cabin in Yosemite, a ride on the Goodyear Blimp, Dodger box seats, Bette Midler tickets, and of course, the raffled ring, the gala had raised over $30,000. The results of this spectacular evening of fun will go to support the center’s wide range of programs helping vulnerable children, individuals and families across eleven San Gabriel Valley cities to help them in their fight to regain their self respect and their lives.

The Foothill Unity Center clients showing gratitude

As Executive Director Betty McWilliams explained. “We help neighbors in crisis attain self-sufficiency by partnering with the community to provide vital support services.” More than merely supplying food, clothing and medicine, they help people regain their hope, their pride, and their ability to give back to their communities. Now that’s hardworking fun.

Happy Birthday Foothill Unity Center! Here’s to many, many more.

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