Posted on March 30, 2022
By Cheryl Barrows, Administrative Volunteer, Penn-Mar 30th Anniversary Gala
Some 20 years ago when our friends and Penn-Mar supporters Jill and Steve Golueke invited my husband and me to the Black Tie Gala, we could never have imagined how devoted we would become to the organization’s mission.
In the early years, I volunteered on the Auction Committee. I helped to procure a few items for the Silent Auction but as time went on it, was apparent that my greatest contribution to the cause was my organizational skills.
I am a detailed person at heart and Silent Auctions have a lot of moving parts. It is no exaggeration to say that volunteers spend 100s of hours gearing up for the event.
For the 30th Anniversary Gala held March 5th we began procuring auction items last summer. We don’t have to knock on doors anymore like we did in the early days. The Gala has become one of the premiere social events of the season, so more often than not we have people coming to us with donations.
By the fall we were working on the auction’s administration processes, and in February we were all-in, finalizing the auction items, writing the copy, and most challenging of all, uploading the photographs.
When it came to the technical challenges of posting the auction items, I was lucky to have a husband at home with a 40-year career in information technology.
Kevin’s knowledge and patience was invaluable to our work, especially when it came to uploading multiple images of each item to better showcase them for pre-event reviewing and bidding.
I’m delighted to report that this year’s Gala raised a whopping $625,000! This was an incredible achievement since our crowd was limited to 475 guests rather than the usual 600 because of lingering COVID concerns.
After holding a hybrid gathering last year via Zoom and outside under a tent at the Delta Hotels by Marriott Hunt Valley, many attendees commented on how happy they were to be back again, in-person, at this beloved annual event.
It truly was a memorable evening.
Penn-Mar publicly recognized Wendy and Anthony Gallo, whose son Mike continues to thrive at Penn-Mar. Wendy has served on the Gala committee for many years and for the past five years chaired the event. Anthony has held Board roles on the Penn-Mar Foundation and Penn-Mar Human Services Board and most recently served as Chair of the Foundation.
The Distinguished Humanitarian Award was presented to Julia Huggins, Senior Vice President of U.S. Markets for CIGNA and a Penn-Mar Board Member. Julia captivated the audience by sharing a personal childhood experience that led her to connect to Penn-Mar’s mission and advocate for people with disabilities. Her poignant comments and leadership underscored why she is such a deserving winner of this prestigious award.
The evening’s Special Appeal — where tens of thousands of dollars are raised in a matter of minutes — exceeded its $150,000 goal. Thanks to the generosity of the guests and an 11th hour pledge, the proceeds soared from $120,000 to over $165,000 with a last-minute anonymous pledge of $43,000. The Appeal supports Penn-Mar’s Direct Support Professionals (DSPs), funding its award-winning Career Ladders Program and emergency Care Fund.
It has been such a pleasure to see the Gala grow and prosper over the years and an honor to work under the leadership of Jackie Summers and Kollyne Wetzel.
On behalf of the Gala leadership, ambassadors, and volunteers, I extend heartfelt thanks to our honorees, sponsors, donors, and guests for what many are calling one of the best Penn-Mar Galas ever!