Years ago I attended the Penn-Mar Gala as a guest. I would tell people that it was my favorite social event. Now I’m the person who manages this huge undertaking, overseeing the logistics and sponsorships while working closely with our incredible Black Tie Committee and event Chair, Wendy Gallo and Auction Chair, Steph Aspey.
The Gala brought together some 600 friends, families and supporters of our mission as well as newcomers who had the opportunity to learn about the critical resources we offer to transform life into living for the individuals with disabilities we support.
The theme of the 27th Annual was “Passport to the World, A Perfect Pairing of Fine Wine and Cuisine.” Guests enjoyed live music and a multi-course dinner, paired with wines from around the world and craft cocktails.
Adding to the excitement was a text-to-bid silent auction of 144 donated packages that included exquisite diamond, ruby, sapphire and emerald jewelry; a football helmet autographed by Tom Brady; access to a Baltimore Ravens training camp, tour and press conference; a Spa Day at the Hershey Hotel; and artwork by individuals in Penn-Mar’s Day Program.
The only thing that could outdo the silent activity was the Live Auction bidding. The star performers included a 20 year old Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve Bourbon (bought for $8,000); a trip on a private jet to the Jack Daniels Distillery for private facility tours and accommodations in a 27-foot Airstream RV (a $20,000 winning bid); a week on the Mexican Rivera in a Luxury Villa for 10; and a Southern getaway for 16 to Crystal Sands in Myrtle Beach, SC. All items were donated and this year, multiple winners for certain auction items helped us to exceed our most optimistic fundraising goals.
How far we’ve come since our first fundraising event in 1992 when Penn-Mar hosted a small dinner party for 25 people at the Milton Inn in Maryland!
There were so many magical moments at this year’s Gala but I have to single out a touching film about our Honorees of Distinction, Stef and Tony Campisi, followed by the Humanitarian Award presentation made by Penn-Mar CEO Greg Miller. The Campisi’s and Glatfelter Insurance Group, where Tony is President and CEO, are long-time supporters of Penn-Mar and the gala event. The couple exemplifies Penn-Mar’s core values and both are beloved in the York community for their many years of service and support for worthwhile local causes.
Before making a special plea for attendees to consider making a donation to The Michael James Pitts Endowment for the Advancement of Direct Support Professionals, Greg introduced a film entitled, “Everyday’s an Adventure for Direct Support Professionals,” showing the complex role of the DSP and the special relationships they have with the individuals they support at Penn-Mar.
In a jaw-dropping 10 minutes, generous donors, inspired by an extraordinary lead gift made by our Impact Award recipients, Robin and David Stang, responded to the message with nearly $250,000 in pledges to grow and sustain the national credentialing program and provide DSPs with wage enhancements that reward their professionalism.
Penn-Mar’s Black Tie Gala once again exceeded our expectations, giving us the resources we need to continue offering the DSP Career Ladders program and additional funds for The Penn-Mar Foundation to drive innovative service development not covered by government funding.
Our heartfelt thanks to all of our generous donors!