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June 06, 2009 - Gathering Place: Run for the Roses

What: Brown Bag Benefit Gala

Where: Hyatt Regency Hotel, DTC

When: Saturday, June 06, 2009

Time: 5:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.

Ticket Prices: $150

Beneficiary: Homeless women and their children

Master of Ceremonies: Mike Nelson, 7News

Gala Chairperson(s): Cheryl Hall and Barb Wilson

Honorary Chairperson(s): Cheri and Dan Issel

Committee Members: Association President: Lauren Naylor

President(s): Leslie Foster

Entertainment: Eric O'Shea, comedian

Sponsors: Presenting: Margie & Dave Hunter

Auctioneer: Gary Corbett - Auctioneer

Menu: Whiskey chicken, green beans with bacon, fresh salad, red velvet cake

Attendance: 500+

Attire: cocktail

Special Thanks: Bolder Events, Linda Shaw, Denver Life Magazine, DS Additions, Samantha Holloway, Mile High Wine and Spirits, Mike & Cindy Nelson, Sanitas Skincare, Lisa Crary, Simply Moore, Michael Moore, Sue's Do's, Sue Danko, Wallaby's Liquor Warehouse, Wine Underground

Event Coordinator: Laura Meixell

Planning Committee: Tamera Krause, Denny Thompson, Sonya Peterson, Jennifer Winslow, Samantha Holloway, Mary Kirkpatrick, Linda Shaw, Pam Ignat, Debbie McCarty, Martha Kallestad, Cheryl Hall, Holly Johnson, Laura Meixell, Barb Wilson, Suzanne Robertson, Lauren Naylor, Ana Kemp, Beverly Karns

Board of Directors: Emily Bustos, Board Chair; Karen DuWaldt, Immediate Past Board Chair; Daria Kane, Treasurer; Elizabeth Gundlach Neufeld, Secretary; David Herlinger, Chair Elect; Rachel Basye; Beverly Granger; Patti Hein; Lauren Naylor; Dee Dee Parker; Andrew Peterson; Billy Lee Seiber; Liz Sloan; E. Alan Terry; Leslie Foster

Blacktie Photos by: M. Darcy

 Supporters of The Gathering Place for 20 years, Dan and Cheri Issel hold up their plaque as Honorary Chairmen.
Supporters of The Gathering Place for 20 years, Dan and Cheri Issel hold up their plaque as Honorary Chairmen.

Homeless Women and Kids Get Refuge Through KY Derby

Story by: M. Darcy

If you lost your home, where would you go? Homelessness is something many of us are thinking about with the housing crisis. But most of us would bounce back if we were foreclosed on. We wouldn't be literally homeless. Unfortunately it's a reality for a growing number of people already living below the luxury line of having savings, family support or education to compete in the job market.

Now, more than ever, Denver needs The Gathering Place. With over 10,000 homeless people on its streets, more than half of them homeless families, this day center is a refuge for hundreds of women and their children. Between 350 and 400 women each day can get out of the elements, have a good meal, take a shower and a nap while their children are in daycare, work towards a GED, look for a job, and get some emotional support until they return to the safety of a city shelter at night.

And now, more than ever, The Gathering Place needs its supporters. Purse-strings may be tightening, but numbers of homeless are growing. In response, on Saturday, June 6, 500 of the organization's friends turned out for their annual Gala, a delightful Kentucky Derby-themed evening of southern food, big hats and roses. Mike Nelson from 7News emceed, with wife, Cindy, helping to bump up live-auction bids. Auctioneer, Gary Corbett (University of Kentucky grad) did his usual rapid-best, frequently urging the ladies - who hold the power, he observed - to snatch up some of the goodies. Gary also tried to auction off a tornado dance by Mike Nelson, but couldn't get the idea to really touch down. Many of the auction items were sports-related, perhaps in nod to the Honorary Chairs being Dan Issel and his wife, Cheri. Dan, NBA All Star for the University of Kentucky, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1993. He and Cheri have been dedicated to The Gathering Place for 20 years as staff, volunteers, board members and donors. Cheri, herself, served as the first President of The Association.

After the bidding race ended, the evening's grande finale spotlighted Eric O'Shea, a stand-up comedian who has appeared on NBC and VH-1. His childhood torture and Seinfeld impersonations had the audience cheering and standing. Dan and Mike Nelson got front row seats to some of his improv, as did a few other guests.

One of the unique programs at The Gathering Place, which wasn't mentioned at the Gala, is The Gathering Card Project. Participants are given cardstock to design greeting cards, which the Center sells for them at cost, giving women a little income, a creative outlet and a source of pride. One woman, Beverly Granger, has become a successful artist. Her wolf painting was sold at the silent auction on Saturday. Not only that, but Beverly now sits on the board of The Gathering Place. "There is joy in coming to The Gathering Place," the organization's website quotes her saying, "and being greeted by our names, and in being known for who we really are and not for who you might assume we are.  The joy is there, even if we don’t recognize it for what it is, because we are too busy and involved with trying to make it through one more day, and then another."

While the Gala was a fundraising and entertainment success, The Gathering Place still needs your support. Check out their website at and find out what they're doing to help Denver's most vulnerable. Donate your time or give generously to those who really just want a hand up off the streets.  Wouldn't you want someone to do the same for you and your family?

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