By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – A later than usual date is one of the differences for this year's 10th annual Gala to benefit Shrewsbury Youth & Family Services when it's held Saturday, March 15, at 6 p.m., at St. John's High School. Last year's major fundraiser scheduled in February was postponed due to snow. Co-chairs Jim Heald and Amy Kotsopoulos invite supporters to escape from their winter hibernation.
“It's a nice night out – especially after a really long winter,” Heald said. “It's a night to celebrate what the agency is and what it does. And hopefully, we'sl introduce and educate more people to the agency.”
It's also the night when Heald will debut as the event's auctioneer.
“It's going to be baptism by fire,” he said. “I'sl keep it light, low pressure and entertaining.”
He's getting encouragement from his co-chair.
“Anyone who knows Jim knows that he will be a wonderful auctioneer,” Kotsopoulos said. “He has a very infectious personality and some people actually think he's funny.”
Among the notable auction items are two premium seats for a Red Sox vs. Yankees game at Yankee Stadium in New York City; a getaway for two in South America; four seats for a Katy Perry concert at the TD Garden; two seats for Billy Joel at Fenway Park; an official NFL football signed by Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork; four club seats for a Celtics game at TD Garden; golf at Mount Pleasant, Tatnuck and Worcester Country Club; and a private tour for up to 15 people by WBZ-TV's Paula Ebben.
Always a favorite auction item, Selectman Jim Kane and his wife, Hannah, will host eight dinner guests at their home, the historic Pease Tavern. Also, Dave and Becky Dalke are offering a cruise on Boston Harbor with wine and appetizers.
This year's Gala has lots of connections with the Shrewsbury community, noted Kotsopoulos.
“We took great pains to ensure that people who were involved really have a tie with the community,” she said.
The banner promoting the Gala hung on Maple Avenue was created by Shrewsbury students who attend Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School in Marlborough. The evening's master of ceremony will be Town Moderator Chris Mehne.
Musical entertainment will be provided by five Shrewsbury residents collectively known as Tension. The band has been performing classic rock hits at fundraisers for over 10 years. They entertained at last year's Celebration in the Garden to benefit the Shrewsbury Public Schools and have been booked for this summer's event.
Nearing St. Patrick's Day, the Gala will feature a Celtic-inspired dinner prepared by Struck Catering.
“Barbara Cotter and Derek Grillo, a mother son team of Struck Catering, want to make it as great a night for everyone as we do,” Heald said.
Adding to the ambience, centerpieces will be created by Carl Danielson and Connie O”Connell.
In past years, the Outstanding Youth of Shrewsbury Award was presented to high school students at the Gala.
“We think that there will be a better time in the year to acknowledge the outstanding youth,” Heald explained.
The Harry S. Cutting Jr. Award will be given to Central One Federal Credit Union for its longtime generosity to the agency.
To raise additional funds, there's a drawing for an emerald-diamond pendant, custom designed and donated by Sach Jewelers. Attendance isn's required to win.
“It's a real community event for people to socialize and have fun while helping a wonderful cause,” Kotsopoulos said. “By attending, people show their community support of this vital agency.”
To learn more about several new SYFS programs, visit communityadvocate.com/2014/01/21/shrewsbury-youth-family-services-explores-new-challenges.
To order Gala tickets and pendant chances, visit syfs-ma.org.