We laughed. We talked. We gawked and admired one another’s costumes.
We ate good food. Shared a sip of grog or two and sampled tasty chocolate concoctions that soothed the cravings.
And we laughed some more.
Saturday night was the 5th annual Dream Inn Big! Gala for Inn from the Cold, the family resource centre I work for which includes a 24/7 emergency family shelter.
Almost 500 people, (297 adults and 175 children under 12 – the majority dressed up as pirates) ate and talked and listened to speeches and bid on silent auction items and raffles and all in all had a spectacularly great time! The children (including the adults who were children at heart) had fun playing games and making gooey gobby goop and finding their pirate names and sailing down the slide of a giant bouncy castle while wandering the rooms of the TELUS SPARK Science Centre. It was organized chaos with lots of Ahoy Mateys and time to walk the plank and shiver me timbers!
And when it was all over, we went home, our bellies full and our hearts fuller.
And when it was all over, a team of community volunteers, staff volunteers and staff dismantled the decorations, took down the decor and hauled evidence of the Gala away.
We raised over $217k on Saturday night.
Gratitude. Thankfulness. Humbleness. They fill our hearts and minds.
It’s still not enough though.
We have to do better.
Because when it was all over on Saturday night, the Inn emergency shelter was still full. In fact, on Saturday night we had to activate our emergency overflow shelter at Knox Inn to provide shelter for 8 children and their parents.
As an organization, we believe we can create a community where no child or family is homeless.
We believe that aside from a housing crisis, we can create the powerful and strong network of services and supports necessary to ensure every family has access to the right resources at the right time to prevent their falling into homelessness. And should a housing crisis arise, we believe we can quickly and compassionately provide the right supports to ensure homelessness does not become a long-term or recurring event in their lives.
We believe we can do it.
And that’s why events like Saturday night are so important. Not only do we raise much needed funds to support us in our vision, we also raise awareness and shift perceptions and increase support for our mission of helping children and their families in homelessness achieve independence.
Because, no matter where someone slept that night, the need to ensure we have the right family-serving system of care for vulnerable children and families is vital.
It’s often said that it takes a village to raise a child. Well, putting on an event like the Dream Inn Big! Gala takes a whole community of committed staff and volunteers and generous sponsors
Since I joined the Inn team at the end of May, Gala has been a big part of the Communications, Volunteer Resources and Resource Development teams’ focus. They have lived and breathed and dreamed it into reality. Add to their roster the other staff who chipped in where ever needed, who came to volunteer on the night of the event to help set-up, oversee the evening’s numerous activities and tear down, the Dream Inn Big! Gala’s success is because of their commitment and heartfelt passion to ensure no detail was missed and every guest had a magical evening complete with pirate mayhem and laughter!
It worked. Thanks to staff, countless volunteers, sponsors and all those who came out, the evening is one I won’t soon forget, and neither will our guests.