It's official. 2016, for me, has been The Year of the Gala.
Gotta love an excuse to get dressed up and go drink, dine and socialize for a good cause!
A few weekends ago saw me dressed in black from head to toe and sporting red lipstick for the Feed My Starving Children Gala, an annual event my company co-sponsors.
My date for this one? The ever-soulful Roommate Hal!
I should've known right off the bat that we'd have a fabulous night. The gala was hosted in one of the giant halls at the Minneapolis Convention Center, and featured the usual suspects...a raffle, a live auction, a keynote speaker of moderate Minnesota fame, and impassioned pleas for financial support. With Hal in tow, though, all of that seemed extra-fun to me!
One of my favorite colleagues (and Open Call buddies), AJ, was also seated at our table.
I'd say we clean up pretty nicely!
While my usual galas tend more toward the black-tie end of the spectrum and have tended to be more arts-focused, FMSC's centered around awareness of the hunger and poverty striking the third world even harder than usual lately. As such, it felt a bit incongruous to be sitting down to a three-course meal while speakers discussed the horrific starvation facing much of the developing world. Gotta say, it set a tenor for the evening that left me a little jarred.
I did take a moment to capture my company on the Host Sponsors screen, though :)
One of the big awareness-raisers took place before the salad course was served. Each person at our table of eight was served a bowl of rice...one giant, cut-crystal, filled to the brim, one smaller, individually-sized portion in glass, and six empty paper bowls. Per the speaker, this was meant to represent the state of hunger and food accessibility in the modern world. While it was impactful, our table merely passed the giant bowl and everyone got a little rice to share. I'd say that's fairly symbolic too, hmm?
The other big statement made was through these "Hope" bracelets, which each attendee received. They are made of Haitian clay...simple and unfussy. My heart dropped into my stomach when, after we all put them on, we were shown a series of images and videos of Haitian children making "dirt cakes" from the same clay to eat...simply to fill their stomachs and keep insatiable hunger at bay. Needless to say, it made me look on my bracelet with a totally different set of eyes.
That wasn't the end of the clay, though. The gala hosts a featured artisan from a FMSC country every year, and this year's was Stephanie of Papillon Enterprise. Stephanie produces handmade mugs from the clay, glazes them in a variety of colors, and by doing so provides jobs and a living wage to over 300 Haitian men and women. Three sets of Stephanie's mugs were auctioned off for $5,000 apiece during the live auction portion of the evening - an inspiring and eye-opening way to see that FMSC's food packs are not a long-term solution to the problem of hunger.
Before we headed out for the night, we snapped a photo of my company's representatives (spouses, dates and plus-ones not included!)...disregard yours truly's apparent inability to manage a sponsor nametag without twisting it around her neck. HA. Truly an excellent cause to support, and a great night out with colleagues and my roomie!