Black Stetson hats and sparkly cowgirl boots set the Grand Ballroom ablaze at this year’s 9th Annual Youth & Family Services Gala at the Stride Bank Center on February 29th. This year’s theme was “Boots & Bling”. From the table centerpieces to the guests, boots and bling could be found everywhere.
The evening was made possible thanks to the gala’s generous title sponsors, Edward Jones, BKD CPAs & Associates, and AT&T.
Dinner, dancing, casino style games and loads of auction items made this a fun filled night. Stride Bank Center Executive Chef, Gerald Craparotta, served up a NY Strip steak that made everyone happy and we can’t forget the chocolate molten lava cake that made one feel as if they may need to go to the confessional after eating.
DJ Randy Johnson provided just the right mix of music to suit everyone’s tastes. It was an eclectic evening of dancing from the two-step to the “Wobble”. For those more interested in cards than dancing, Enid AM AMBUCS provided a variety of casino style games. Guests were given $2500 in chips, play money of course, to try their luck at Blackjack, Roulette, and Craps. Dawn Muncy Photography provided not only professional photos, but their Snaps photo booth as well. Women donning handlebar mustaches made for some pretty interesting photos.
There’s no better benefit auction than one called by the Wiggins family of auctioneers. The hottest live auction item of the night was a private multi course dinner for 6 prepared by Chef Craparotta, which speaks to the popularity of the dinner served that evening. When the live auction portion ended, auctioneer Vickie Allen began auctioning off “Nights of Shelter”, explaining that the cost to house a child in the Emergency Youth Shelter is $30 a night. Mrs. Allen started the nights of shelter off at the $500 level and worked her way down to the $50 level, allowing everyone a chance to participate.
It was an incredible night of fun, but more importantly, it was a night of charity in grand style. Funds raised will benefit the Youth & Family Services three residential programs; the Emergency Youth Shelter, Thelma’s House, and the Transitional Living Program. Most everyone is familiar with the Emergency Youth Shelter, however Thelma’s House has only been in operation for a year. Thelma’s House is one of very few programs of its kind in the state. Thelma’s House was specifically designed for homeless youth ages 16 to 17. This program teaches valuable life skills, while at the same time, requiring residents to attend school, maintain good grades, and hold a part-time job. Most are surprised to learn that Enid has a growing population of homeless teens. The Transitional Living Program is an independent living skills program for residents 18-22. This program is much like the Thelma’s House program in that residents are required to hold employment, finish high school or obtain a GED, attend independent living skills classes, and live a drug free life. Many of these participants go on to continue their education at Autry Technical School or attend college.
The mission of Youth & Family Services is to value, support, and care for individuals to build a stronger community. The fact is that it takes the whole community to accomplish this mission. The community of Enid has always stepped up when called and this year’s gala is a testament to Enid’s commitment to Youth & Family Services and to the most vulnerable in our city.