HSS hosts inaugural gala - Republic-Times | News

HSS hosts inaugural gala

By on June 20, 2018 at 4:16 pm

Human Support Services hosted its first ever Shine Your Light Gala. Pictured, from left, are HSS board member Bob Polansky, auctioneer Adam Jokisch, HSS Executive Director Anne King and Monroe County Sheriff Neal Rohlfing. (James “Tal” Moss photo)

Guests streamed in through the double doors. Laughter rang out across the ballroom. People browsed items up for auction. 

All this and more happened when Human Support Services hosted its inaugural Shine Your Light Gala on Saturday at The Falls in Columbia. 

Two hundred thirty people RSVP’d for the gala. 

“It’s a beautiful event,” said Waterloo Mayor Tom Smith, who attended the gala. “Human Support Services does a great job in Waterloo, Columbia and all of Monroe County. I’m just glad to see all these people out here supporting them.”

The event was designed to be the biggest fundraiser for the nonprofit, which usually does not put on such events.

“I believe that a nonprofit agency should always be in the mindset of fundraising,” HSS Executive Director Anne King said. “Prior to this year, we haven’t really done a lot of that. We have done some little things but nothing big. So, it’s time for us to really have a large event that allows us to tap into private donors in the community.”

More specifically, King said the event was created to help tap into private donors to raise unrestricted funds. Most of the money HSS receives from the government is restricted, meaning it can only be used for specific purposes.

HSS’s goal was to raise $50,000 from the gala.  

“We work very hard to stretch every dollar given to us by local and state funds, but we can do so much more with private donations,” King explained. “A lot of the things we need to do and want to do are unfunded by the state. So, we need those private donors and those unrestricted dollars to help the community.”

King said HSS took inspiration from Camp Wartburg, which has been using an auction to fundraise for 20 years. 

“We run a big auction and we’re trying to teach and train, but there’s a lot of things you’ve got to learn,” Camp Wartburg executive director and HSS board member Bob Polansky said. “There are so many little details.”

King credited the board of directors and a gala council made up of board and community members with planning the event.

“We’ve relied heavily on our board and our staff to put this event together,” King said. “We also have a gala council of community members who have been instrumental in getting this gala together.”

Doors opened at 5 p.m. and the event began with a silent auction, cocktails, a wine pull and bidding on raffle items. 

“Human Support Services does a lot of good for the community and all the special needs people and the DUI victims that need recovery,” Red Bud Carstar Collision Center owner Rodney Cissell said at the gala. “It’s just a good cause.” 

Attendees commonly shared that sentiment of the gala benefiting a worthy cause.

“Human Support Services does amazing work,” Monroe County YMCA Executive Director Scott Spinner said. “We have a shared interest with our TEAMWORK program. We serve some of the same population. Anne King and her team do great work and I just wanted to get out and support them.”

After dinner, attendees were shown a video that showcased all the services HSS provides.

King said the screening of the video served multiple purposes. First, it unveiled the new logo, vision and mission statement of HSS. 

“It’s a big night for Human Support Services,” Polansky said. “We’re unveiling a new logo, a new mission statement and a new vision statement. It’s a lot of cool things happening. So tonight we’re celebrating all this newness.”

Perhaps more importantly, it helped educate attendees about HSS, which King said was another purpose of the gala. 

“As much as this event is about fundraising for our critical services, it’s also about telling the story of what we do at Human Support Services,” she said.  “I want everyone to know and understand the breadth of the services we provide so that in the event they ever need our services, they know where to call. The more education and awareness we all have as a community, the better off we all are. And coming to the gala was a fun way to find out those things.”

HSS board member and Waterloo alderman Stan Darter said the event also aided HSS in another facet.

“In years past, we have been a great organization but we haven’t been out in the community enough,” he said. “We think this gala is a great way for us to start getting out in the community more and shine a light on all we do for the community and the county.”

A live auction followed the video, led by auctioneer Adam Jockisch. 

Although HSS had not yet calculated final numbers, King said they appeared to get close to their fundraising goal. 

“I feel very positive about our preliminary numbers,” she said. “So I think we’re going to be very close to reaching the goal we set for ourselves, which I’m very pleased with in the first year.”

King said HSS is already planning a gala for next year and plans to make it an annual event. 

James Moss