HSS clients have a ball at The Falls - Republic-Times | News

HSS clients have a ball at The Falls

By on March 21, 2018 at 3:43 pm

Pictured, Queen Rose Exum shares a first dance with her king, Elliot Moore, during the Winter Wonderland Ball March 8 at The Falls in Columbia. (Sean McGowan photo)

Human Support Services clients were glowing on March 8, and it wasn’t just because of their elegant dresses and fancy jewelry.

They also emulated excitement and cheerfulness as the night unfolded with dancing and celebration during a formal ball for developmentally disabled adults at The Falls in Columbia. 

An event in which about 135 guests attended, this year’s event marked the second such ball the House of Neighborly Service has organized for the community. Last year’s ball drew 105 guests.

The ball started as an event to thank HSS clients for their volunteer work with the HNS holiday outreach program, but HNS vice president Kelly Lerch said it has since expanded to include all developmentally disabled adults in Monroe County. 

Lerch said the second year allowed volunteers to participate in the fun with less set-up work.

“Our volunteers danced and ate dinner with our beautiful guests and that was a highlight. We really got to enjoy the evening with our partners and thank them for all they do for HNS and the community,” she said.

Another memorable moment came when two lucky guests were crowned king and queen during a coronation ceremony toward the end of the night. 

In anticipation of the announcement, last year’s king and queen, Zach Schenkel and Donna Matzenbacher, went up on stage to relinquish their thrones.

An air of excitement swept over the room as one guest proclaimed she was certain she would be crowned this year’s queen. 

Of course, only one person could claim that title, and for this year, it was Rose Exum in her sparkling blue dress and beautifully curled hair. Elliot Moore had the honor of accompanying her on the dance floor as her king.

However, the two were not the only ones to find a dancing partner. The night included a lot of guests mixing it up with some boogying and slow-dancing throughout the event.

In addition, HSS executive director Anne King said there were two Gibault Catholic High School students doing their service project at HSS who were moving on the dance floor.

“It was so nice of them to do that and the clients were so excited to see them,” King said.

Like last year’s event, Lerch said a lot of donations went into making the night magical for guests. Donors covered the cost of such expenses as the formal wear, jewelry, makeup, the venue, the meal, invitations and more.

Guests were also able to have their pictures taken at no cost in front of The Falls koi pond in the lobby of the reception hall.

After another successful year for the ball, Lerch reflected that no other volunteer activity is more meaningful to her.

“I think the highlight for me was as the guests were leaving, those of us at the door saying goodbye got so many hugs and handshakes, so many thank yous for the food, the dancing, the drinks, the music, you name it,” she said.

King agreed, saying she heard another volunteer second Lerch’s thoughts.

“The second ball was another huge success,” she said. “Everyone had a wonderful evening and The Falls was just a beautiful venue. Before the evening was even over, one of the volunteers said to me, ‘This is my favorite night of the year. I can’t wait until next year.’”

Sean McGowan

Sean is a die-hard Cubs fan, despite the relentless peer pressure coming from the rest of the Republic-Times staff. He and his wife, Jacqui, have been married for two years. Originally from the west suburbs of Chicago, Sean and his wife moved down to Normal to attend Illinois State University and stayed central Illinois residents for the past four years. email:sean@republictimes.net