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St. John’s gala offering dual in-person, virtual event

By Heather Graves

GREEN BAY – The Sixth Annual St. John’s Restoring Hope Gala will look a bit different this year because of the pandemic, but organizers say the end goal remains the same – raise crucial funds to help offset operating costs for the St. John’s Homeless Center.

“This year is truly unlike any other, and for that reason, our leadership and our planning committee sat down and discussed all the options for an event during a global pandemic,” said Alexa Priddy, director of community engagement. “We also talked to supporters and heard that people want to feel like they have choices to decide what is best for them and their health and safety. That’s why we decided to go hybrid. We want to provide options, flexibility and the ability to connect to the work that we do at St. John’s.”

The hybrid event gives attendees the option to attend the gala in-person at the KI Convention Center in downtown Green Bay, or the new virtual option, both at 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 14.

Priddy said the in-person event will meet and exceed the health and safety standards set by community health officials.

“When you arrive, you will see that the KI Center and our staff have done our very best,” she said. “There will be face masks provided by Green Bay Packers Give Back, sanitizing stations, meals will come covered, table capacity is limited and spaced 6 feet apart, servers wear masks and gloves, and we have even more space than years past. We know that those who choose the in-person ticket option will feel at ease with the safety standards in place.”

For those who opt for the virtual option, organizers promise a top-of-the-line experience from the comfort of home.

“The virtual ticket for the Restoring Hope Gala is not a lesser ticket as they can be for some events,” Priddy said.

Virtual gala-goers will have a Party in Place package delivered which includes a gourmet dinner from Gather on Broadway and a signature drink from Bittercube in Milwaukee.

They will also receive a handcrafted centerpiece, face masks from the Packers, an event magazine and a link to join the event virtually.

The in-person event includes a silent auction, services auction and even a Wisconsin-themed beer, meat and cheese curd pull.

There will be a virtual-only raffle and contest for those guests attending virtually.

Both options will enjoy a headlining performance from Joe McLaughling, award-winning singer, songwriter and pianist.

“We’ve really taken a lot of care to make the virtual experience special,” Priddy said.

The signature event helps secure crucial funds to help offset the cost of operating the overnight shelter and two daytime resource centers – the Micah Center and Wellspring.

Though organizers hope for a successful evening, they realize this year’s event won’t yield the same attendance as in years past.

“Last year our event sold out, but this year, we know that won’t happen,” she said. “Just like every other nonprofit or business, we are feeling the economic impact of the COVID crisis. While we don’t expect 800 people as in years past, we hope that the community will still come out to the event, whether at the KI Center or virtually, to support our mission and the work we do to support our homeless brothers and sisters.”

The need is very much there, Priddy said, as staff saw one of the greatest need seasons in the shelter’s history with operating in overflow 177 nights of its 180-day season.

“We served 562 guests with 20,145 nights of shelter and 40,290 warm meals,” she said. “Our programs extend beyond these essential emergency services. We also provide case management, peer support, mental health treatment, employment services and medical care that help people heal, connect and pave the way for successful futures.”

The funds raised through the gala helps the shelter continue to be there for those who need a helping hand.

Tickets are $400 for a table of six. Individual tickets are $70. Guests can change their attendance option up until Nov. 2, if their plans change.

More information can be found online at one.bidpal.net/stjohnsgala2020.

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