Gala proceeds go sky-high
Carman Carroll, 2011-12 president of the St. John's Northwest club, greets the 350 guests. Randy Dawe Photography
Every year, the Rotary Club of St. John’s Northwest, N.L., raises money for people in need
at its gala dinner and auction. Back in March, club members collected a record-breaking $246,891. Next month, they hope to top that.
Half of the proceeds from last year’s event went to Hope Air, a nonprofit that provides flights to low-income, seriously ill Canadians who could not otherwise afford to travel to specialized medical facilities in urban areas. The rest of the money supported other charities and Rotarian projects.
Jim Burton, a member of the St. John’s Northwest club who operates a seasonal airline, brought Hope Air to the club’s attention and suggested that it give a portion of its gala proceeds to the group, which has arranged more than 70,000 flights since 1986.
“The story of Hope Air sold itself. It’s the perfect example of an organization that values service over self,” he says.
Burton chaired the event along with fellow club member Charlie Stacey. The duo organized a committee and contacted dozens of local companies and leaders, urging them to donate auction prizes such as jewellery, hotel vouchers, a Rolex watch, fishing trips, a grand piano, and airline tickets.
National figures also contributed their time and talents. Canada’s first astronaut, Marc Garneau, spoke about the mission of Hope Air. Robert Pilon, the former Phantom from
The Phantom of the Opera in Toronto, sang for the 350 attendees, each of whom paid $200 for an evening of dinner, dancing, music, and spirits.
“People were asking about tickets for next year before the night was even over,” Stacey says. “There are many events like this around our city, but we make ours great by providing entertainment and good food. We make sure the wine is flowing and have unique auction items. We hit the mark on all fronts.”
Hope Air Executive Director Doug Keller-Hobson marvelled at the power of the club. “Rotary is right in the community. It’s not just a national office,” he says. “They have
a network of people to call. There are a lot of great causes out there, and when Rotary
gets behind one, it makes such a difference.”
This year’s gala will take place 23 February, and Hope Air will be a beneficiary again.
“A donation to Hope Air is a contribution to the wellness of all Newfoundlanders,” Burton says. “Healthy people make healthy communities.”
Learn more at www.hopeair.org.