Habitat benefit: Making hope a reality
More than 300 persons attended Habitat for Humanity's ninth annual "A Toast to Hope" fundraiser at the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks. All proceeds from the signature event, estimated to reach $50,000, benefit the local home building program.
The event was also a celebration of the more than 3,600 volunteers who worked during 2013 to help Habitat fulfill its mission to provide affordable housing for deserving families. In recognition of this volunteerism, the Linny and Beall Fowler Community Award was presented during the evening to three members of The Saturday Crew. Jeff Worman, Art Mazza and Frank Erceg have given up their Saturdays to work together as a team for a total of more than 15,000 hours. Worman has been a volunteer for 20 years.
Nearly 50 items, including art works and dinner and vacation getaways, were bid on during the evening's silent auction. Some single items, including a four-night stay at the St. Ermin's Hotel in London, raised more than $1,000 each.
In urging event goers to bid on auction items, buy raffle tickets and support other fundraising efforts, Executive Director Debrah Cummins said, "The affordable housing crisis in the Lehigh Valley is real, and more families than ever are looking to our organization for an opportunity to achieve the American dream of home ownership. It is only through your generosity that we make hope a reality for our families."
Approximately $3,000 was raised from the purchase of votes in the first-ever Lego Build competition, which was created to involve young people in Habitat for Humanity. This year's winner was Michael Prebosnyak, whose "Home Sweet Lego" entry featured a fisherman, a spreading tree and a Habitat building project under construction. Votes at $1 each were cast in advance online and during the fundraising evening. Just Born donated 1,000 of its Peanut Chews candies to use as voting tokens.
This year's attendees were treated to a selection of 10 specially selected wines from around the world, along with a tasting of foods generously provided by some of the Lehigh Valley's popular restaurants and caterers: Catering by Robert, Bravo, Pearly Baker's Alehouse, Royal Gourmet Foods, Yianni's Taverna, Green Mountain Coffee, Emeril's Chophouse and Italian Table, Karen Hunter Catering, Shankara by Balasia, Wild Rice, Louie's Restaurant and China House II.