By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
A black pearl necklace created and donated by Sachs Jewelers specifically for a drawing at the 11th annual Gala to benefit Shrewsbury Youth & Family Services. photo/submitted
Shrewsbury – Support from the community continues to grow for Shrewsbury Youth & Family Services (SYFS). Last year, a record number of 375 guests attended the agency’s major fundraiser. The event committee’s goal is to match that turnout for the 11th annual Gala to be held Saturday, March 14, 6 p.m., at St. John’s High School.
Among the guests who have attended this fundraiser repeatedly is Melissa Pride-Fahs, owner of Emerge Marketing. She volunteered to serve as this year’s event chair.
“I’ve always been a big supporter of the work that SYFS does,” she said. “My background is event management and marketing, so chairing the Gala seemed like a good fit.”
She gave this year’s Gala a theme: “Great Gatsby Glamour.” The invitation states, “Let us entertain you Gatsby-style.” Exactly how that will be done won’t be revealed until that evening, Pride-Fahs noted.
“The entertainment will be very surprising and in tune with the Gatsby theme for the evening,” she explained. “It will be different for people who have attended the Gala for 10 years. They’re not use to having that wow factor. You’ll never know what’s coming next.”
Guests can expect a sit-down dinner provided by Struck Catering, as well as silent and live auctions. Among the auction items are four tickets to the Taylor Swift concert at Gillette Stadium, Red Sox and Bruins tickets, and trips and getaways.
Returning for a second consecutive year as auctioneer will be Jim Heald, who served as event co-chair last year with Amy Kotsopoulos.
“Jim has a lot of enthusiasm and the audience responds well to him,” Pride-Fahs said. “He’ll be great.”
Once again, Nick Sachs of Sach Jewelers has donated an item for a drawing. He designed a black pearl necklace reflective of the 1920s.
A highlight of the evening will be the presentation of the Harry S. Cutting Jr. Award to Shrewsbury resident Dr. Harvey G. Clermont, who has done missionary work locally and internationally. He’s currently the director of three programs including St. Anne’s Free Medical Program in Shrewsbury. Clermont previously directed a free medical clinic at the First United Methodist Church in Hudson.
SYSF Executive Director Terry Cassidy believes that Clermont is an ideal recipient.
“His whole life story is nothing but giving back and helping others,” she said. “It’s completely in vein with what we represent at SYFS, strengthening and giving back to the community.
The Gala is an opportunity for the community to become more aware of the agency and the need for this fundraiser, Cassidy noted.
“Almost 30 percent of our annual budget is from the Gala revenue,” she said. “A lot of people don’t realize that we’re a nonprofit; they think we’re a town entity. We do get a stipend from the town and we’re extremely grateful for that. Right now the agency runs tremendously with volunteers, student interns and part-time therapists. We have fully maximized all our resources.”
SYFS is the town’s only private, nonprofit community counseling and social services agency, which serves people of all ages in times of need. Cassidy credits the community for its ongoing support of SYFS.
“The agency was founded by citizens of the community and continues for 32 years because of their support,” she said.
Tickets per person are $100 through Sunday, March 1; and $120 thereafter, if available. Register online at www.syfs-ma.org or by calling 508-845-6932. If registering by mail, make checks payable to “SYFS,” 240 Maple Ave., Shrewsbury, MA 01545. Gatsby apparel is optional.