In 2003, a committee at Wendell Foster began discussing the idea of a gala dinner and auction as the major fundraiser for the organization. The first event raised $59,000 in net proceeds. Fifteen years later, Wendell Foster has freshened up the event to add excitement and they are hoping to beat last year’s net profit of $133,000.
Maggie Price, the Vice President of Development for Wendell Foster said, “This community never ceases to amaze us with their generous support and gracious spirit. We are extremely blessed.”
With an expected 400 attendees, the decision to change the event from a plated dinner to something less formal should add more excitement. Authentic Louisiana hors d’oeuvres, including red beans and rice, a shrimp boil, muffuletta sliders and beignets will be served while a musician plays Dixieland jazz and “street” performers entertain.
Attendees are not required to dressed in New Orleans theme, but beads will be on hand, along with a few other surprises.
The number of live auction items is less this year, and Price hopes there will be “fierce bidding” on these.
“Tennessee Titans football tickets, original art from local artists, and items that offer unique experiences top the bidding wars,” Price said. “This year we’re offering a few new experiences including a guided deer hunt and a San Diego timeshare.”
Wendell Foster’s Chief Executive Officer Eric Sharf is excited to be part of this year’s evening.
“I am honored to have the opportunity to participate in my first Wendell Foster auction. I have heard many stories about the fun and serious competition from past auctions. The passion for fundraising for our people we support and for the overall organization has been second to none from my personal experience. I can only imagine that this auction will be like no other auction, as the swing of the theme being New Orleans Soirée will lend itself for additional fun and adventures,” Sharf said.
The night of the event, attendees bring their fully-charged smartphone to electronically bid on items, make donations and check out, avoiding lines at the end of the night.
During the live auction portion of the night, the auctioneer asks attendees to use their smartphone to “fund-a-need.” Attendees type in amounts they are willing to donate and instantly their names appear on the big screens on the stage and the needed amount rises until the goal is reached.
“This year, the organization’s focus for the “fund-a-need” portion of the evening will be Wendell Foster’s community living and training program, which educates and uses hands-on training to empower people to be active members of our community through employment, volunteerism and social involvement,” Price said.
Wendell Foster was just approved to host a half marathon in March of 2019. This will be the other major fundraiser for the organization.
A New Orleans Soiree will be held on Saturday, Sept. 8, at 6 p.m. at the Owensboro Convention Center. Tickets are still available and are $50 each. Auction items can be previewed, tickets can be purchased, and donations can be made here.