Wow we are just a few days after the fundraiser and I am overjoyed by how well everything went. Although there were many bumps in the road, most no one but a few knew about them. The Olympia did a fabulous job at decorating the room to look beautiful, not to mention create the delicious meal we were served. There was over 400 people in attendance, lots of prizes and fancy outfits. I often feel awkward in a room like that with lots of important people some with lots of money to spare and connections to what the world thinks are important. I am grateful for all of them, as they support God’s work in our place, but sometimes get overcome with worry on Gala night about which sponsors we need to make sure we talk to and see if they are enjoying themselves. I sometimes let the abundance of the evening overshadow – for just a few moments – what I am most overwhelmed by in my life at the mission, and that is the generosity of our friends who call the mission their family.
Everyone wants to know how much money we raised, and it’s important that we do because we need the funds to support the great work there. But as I have been reflecting this year on the evening I am struck by two things that happened that only some people were aware of, but that show the true sense of generosity and the spirit of sacrificial giving. Cia who owns the local pizza shop with her husband, were able to come to the Gala because of a generous table sponsor. Cia and her husband have 3 children, and although the pizza shop is “successful”, they make enough money to provide for their family but are by no means going on vacation anytime. Emerald pizza donates pizza to our men’s group, and also to open houses we have, but not only that I have seen Cia many times giving pizza to people who are hungry and cannot afford to pay. She was so excited to get dressed up for Gala, and while they were there someone stole her wallet with $200 inside (money they had saved up to but something to help support HHSM) along with her drivers license and health card. I was devastated to say the least that someone that night would do such a thing. All she wanted back was her ID. Before they left that night a gentleman that I met a year ago heard about the wallet and asked me how much money was missing – I told him and he handed me $220 to give to her and only asked if she found the wallet and the money was inside to donate the money to HHSM. He didn’t know who she was but gave because he understood the spirit of the evening. Cia’s wallet wad returned to the police station with her ID inside but no money. All she said was “you know what Helen the people who took it probably were desperate and needed it more and God knew that so took care of it”. Cia understand the spirit of God and generosity. If you ask her about the wallet she holds no anger towards who did it, just grateful for her ID to be returned. God always makes things right even when they can look very wrong. She got her $200 back with an bonus $20 that I believe is a blessing from God for all she does for everyone. I also know that since the Gala she has given out more than $20 in free pizza.
The next day we sat at the Lycklama’s table and opened all the envelopes from Gala night. We are truly blessed by many and I think the total was over $5,000 in donations. There were some big bills and large cheques but my favourite was from our friend Paula who cam to the Gala because she was excited to see the baby blanket she helped knit go up for auction. She was so proud of all the work she did for it! Paula lives down the street from HHSM in an apartment in the back of a storefront, she certainly doesn’t have a lot of money to spare. The outside of the envelope had her name on it in large letters and inside was a $5 bill. She made a prize for the auction table, saved up and bought a ticket for the Gala and then left money in an “ask card” at the end of the evening. I am overcome by her example to me. I think of the times I am asked to give for something “extra” in church and think I don’t have to because I tithe on a regular basis. Paula gave her ALL on Gala night. Her “sponsorship” wasn’t on any of our levels that would gain her a place on the PowerPoint or in the brochure but she did it because she understood the spirit of the evening.
I love when God uses those we least expect to make changes for his kingdom. Thank-you to everyone who helped make Gala night a great success! All volunteers and sponsors too! We hope to see you again next year.