The ninth annual Gala for Hope and Healing benefitting the Children’s Center for Hope and Healing was a scene straight from the Roaring ’20s era.
Women with feathers in their hair and fringe on the end of their dresses and men snazzed up in suits and ties came out to show their support for the center.
Sam Shoemaker, executive director of the center, had a mission for the event.
“We are going to have a lot of fun tonight,” he said. “But I want to make sure everyone here knows what we do.”
Shoemaker said the center has been open since 1984 and has helped “thousands and thousands” of people since opening their doors. In the last year, 2,000 individuals in 13 counties have been aided by their services.
Amanada Lamborti, the clinical director for the center, explained what the center does.
“We are a child center that offers counseling services,” Lamborti said. That includes Pathfinders, which is a program geared toward children who are “acting out sexually” or need guidance in boundaries or “good touch, bad touch” manners, she said.
“We are trying to do some prevention (with Pathfinders),” Shoemaker said.
The center employs eight therapists to help these people, two of them bilingual.
Around 175 to 200 people showed up for the event, Director of Development Cindy Wilson said.
“What we do is so important (for the kids),” Wilson said. “And the community is so supportive of us.”
Danielle and Chris Wunn of Flowery Branch were there on behalf of the Gainesville Jaycees.
“We love supporting (the center),” Danielle Wunn said. It is their fourth year coming to the event.
The center offers free therapy programs for children and adults who have been victims of sexual abuse.
“It’s a great cause,” said Tom LeFevre, who has attended many years with his family. “We have a soft spot for children.”
“The event (itself) is very enjoyable,” said Dawn Fouts, a sponsor of the vent and whose husband is on the Children’s Center for Hope and Healing.
Fouts had her eyes set on a colorful rocking chair donated by the Quinlan Visual Arts Center for the silent auction.
“It raises a lot of money for the children,” Fouts said.
Other items donated included a Smoky Mountains getaway, passes for kid-friendly places like Medieval Times and Elachee Nature Science Center, art and other prizes. There was also a raffle, which included a “lottery tree” filled with tickets for various lotteries, a “ladies” basket and a “gents” basket.
A photo booth, complete with 20s gear, was set up for guests to enjoy.