Charity may begin at home – but a night on the town never hurts.
The Modesto Gospel Mission offers a chance to combine philanthropy and fun again this year at its annual Gala Fundraiser – but it needs more people to get on that giving train.
Contemporary pop-rock Christian band Unspoken provides the entertainment at the benefit, set for Thursday, Sept. 29, at the Gallo Center for the Arts in downtown Modesto. The show is being held earlier than usual this year because of band and venue availability, according to Anastasia Carroll, director of development at the mission. Lower-than-normal ticket sales so far in the process are raising concern for organizers, since the annual event is their largest fundraiser of the year.
“Every ticket counts,” Carroll said in an email.
Music is just part of the price-friendly program (tickets are $25-$35), which also will feature a pre-show reception with appetizers from some of Modesto’s chefs and restaurants, a silent auction featuring local artists and red carpet photo opportunities.
Proceeds benefit the needy and homeless in Stanislaus County, served by the Modesto Gospel Mission since 1948 with meals, beds and a safe space for thousands of men, women, boys and girls.
Some of those served in the mission’s New Life Program will offer personal testimonies at the event about the help they received. The Gala also helps organizers spread key information about the mission, Carroll said.
“It’s very important to us because we are able to communicate to a large crowd updates about the programs and services of the mission,” she said.
Last year’s Gala raised more than $20,000 and the hope is to at least match that amount this year, Carroll said. The 2015 event featured “American Idol” alum Danny Gokey, a popular Christian artist. This year’s band, Unspoken, boasts top five Christian chart singles with “Who You Are,” “Start a Fire,” “Lift My Life Up” and “Good Fight.” Unspoken has toured with major Christian bands such as Sanctus Real and Big Daddy Weave.
“They are a very popular band and get a lot of air time,” Carroll said of Unspoken’s radio reach. “We try to pick someone that a lot of people like so we can attract a broad audience. Our hope each year is to sell out.”
Adding entertainment to the annual Gala is relatively new – previously the galas were fundraising banquets that generally attracted the same demographic each year – a limiting prospect.
So when Carroll’s husband, Kevin Carroll, became the executive director of the Gospel Mission in 2013, they started looking at expanding the event’s reach.
“When we went to the Fundraising Banquet we noticed that most of the attendees were of one age group that were already our supporters,” Anastasia Carroll said. “We wanted to appeal to a wide range of ages that may or may not already be supporters of ours. And we wanted our event to be something people wanted to go to for themselves, like a night out, not just an obligatory event to support us.”
Thus the first entertainment-added gala was held in 2014 featuring performance artist David Garibaldi, a third-place finisher on “America’s Got Talent”; the Gokey concert followed last year.
Before the Gallo Center show, a host of local chefs and restaurants will provide a cornucopia of food, including Galletto Ristorante, Greens, Fuzio, Familgia Bistro, Buffalo Wild Wings, Thailand Restaurant, My Chef, Orient House, the culinary department from the Institute of Technology, Rachel’s Kitchen, Cheesecake Kitchen and Dunkin’ Donuts.
It all comes together for an evening that combines an opportunity to learn about the mission, to be charitable in supporting it and enjoy a evening out while doing so.
“This is a great event to come out and have fun,” Carroll said. “(It’s) great for groups or for dates. A great way to support Modesto Gospel Mission and have a fun night out.”