“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”
This quote from Mother Teresa immediately makes me think of Fellowship Housing and the work they are doing to empower single moms to create a new legacy.
On February 24, I had the honor of being the event photographer for the 2018 Fellowship Housing Black & White Gala. Fellowship Housing is a non-profit organization based in the Chicago suburbs that helps single moms and their children by loving and serving them through a two-year transitional housing program that leads them on a path of accountability and independence. You can read more about the hard work that these moms go through in the program by visiting the Fellowship Housing website.
The annual gala is one of the biggest fundraisers for the organization and this was my third year volunteering for this event. I first came into contact with this organization when my sister (now Executive Director Pam Orr) joined the FH staff a few years ago. When I heard about the work being done through this organization and the lives being impacted, I was so inspired. As a woman who was once a single mom, I was so encouraged that there were people out there making a true impact on the lives of single moms and their children, to break the cycle of poverty and bring them hope and freedom in such a loving and powerful way. Most of these moms do not have the support of a family or community, so Fellowship Housing steps in and provides a hand up.
The night began with guests mingling around the hotel lobby bidding via an app on their phones for wonderful donated items set up around the room. It was fun to watch people having a little fun competition with others as they bid against each other. I think one of my favorite items was a pack of 4 park hopper tickets for Disney World, but that’s just the Disney lover in me.
Guests were then ushered into the ballroom where they were seated at beautifully decorated tables where they ate a delicious meal and prepared for the program. Executive Director Pam Orr welcomed guests and Associate Director Lauren Wiens led everyone in prayer for the meal and the evening.
Matt Lundgren was the emcee for the night, bringing his contagious energy to the room. A very energetic wine pull followed where people purchased mystery bottles of wine with a surprise bottle of Dom Perignon hidden inside one of the bags. Guests who purchased the wine were then encouraged to open their bags to see who had the hidden gem!
Pam Orr announced the Tony Navinsky Partner of the Year award. This year’s recipient was the Willow Creek Care Center who has partnered with Fellowship Housing.
The next part of the night was the live auction, led by the auctioneer for the night Tyler Grissom. Tyler and Matt had a little fun auctioning off their own talents and clothing which brought in a surprising amount of money, but the real items up for bid were trips, a sailing cruise with Willow Creek Pastor Bill Hybels and a huge couples package.
All of the fun led us to the most beautiful part of the evening. As the guests settled down and Pam Orr shared about the success of moms in the program and a story about the impact of a woman in her own life, the hearts in the room were being prepared to share the most powerful story of a Fellowship mom. The story of this courageous woman was shared in a video narrated by her strong, beautiful daughter.
As hearts were moved, Pam Orr then cast the vision of the organization for the next few years. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house when she shared that a new program was started to award some of the children of these moms in the program with college scholarships, giving them a new hope and chance to break the cycle of poverty by furthering their education. The first recipient of this scholarship was announced, and she realized that she it was her! As she was welcomed on stage to accept the scholarship, I was never more proud of my sister, of Fellowship Housing and the change they are making in the lives of families in the community.
You can see the highlight video here:
This year’s gala was a huge success! Executive Director Pam Orr shared this on the Fellowship Housing website the day after the event,
“What an incredible night it was! Thank you for your outrageous generosity. I am still a bit in awe of what happened last night. Preliminary results show that we raised over $200,000! God continues to remind me to dream big and expect big things. He is, after all, a big God. And He has a deep love for the moms we serve.
There is so much more to say and people to thank. A proper letter of gratitude will come later. But I couldn’t let any more time go by without thanking God for his kindness to us and thanking you for catching the vision of changing even more legacies in the coming days and years.
According to the Fellowship Housing March Newsletter, the final number for contributions from the event totaled over $230,000!
To learn how you can be a part of this incredible organization, please visit fhcmoms.org.
Guests looking at the items for the silent auction.
A few of the moms in the program and daughter on the left.
Associate Director Lauren Wiens
The wine pull in action!
Adorable wine pull volunteers.
Guests opening their wine bags looking to see what kind of wine they got and if they had a mystery bottle!
Emcee Matt Lundgren handing out the lucky recipient of the special wine bottle.
Executive Director Pam Orr awarding the Tony Navinsky Partner of the Year
Matt Lundgren and auctioneer Tyler Grissom
Matt giving us a lovely rendition of Let it Go to encourage guests to give generously.
The lucky winning bidder on one of the live auction items.
Pam Orr inspiring us with story and real success of the FH moms.
Learning that she was the first recipient of the college scholarship.
Recipient with Family Advocate Lisa Bohn.
Fellowship Housing Student Board
Lovely guest Nichole Nordeman shared her gift of song with us. What a blessing for the guests and encouragement for the moms!