This is one gala you don’t want to miss

A piece of me is missing. I gave it away a long time ago, and I expect I will never get it back.

A piece of me is missing. I gave it away a long time ago, and I expect I will never get it back. It belongs to the youth of our valley, and to the Summit Youth Centre. I ran it for several years. In fact, looking back, I have been involved with it for over 12 years… almost 14, I think, minus a few years hiatus when I ran away to be a cowgirl. But I could not stay away.

It started with a few stories for the board of directors when I was a reporter for The Echo, and later, a few volunteer hours. Then, after the drowning death of Richard “CrisCo” Benn when one of his friends at a party said to me: “Perhaps if we had been somewhere like this, CrisCo would still be alive,” I took it on full time. I was hooked.

We worked hard, as the staff and board had before us, and created a space for youth age 12 to 18 that was more like a second home to all of us. We started a youth empowerment camp, had a Fitness for Life program, theme parties and movie nights, and of course, a lot of just good ol’ hanging out.

After I resigned to partake in my new adventure, I found I still stayed in contact with many of the youth, and when I came back home to the valley, it seemed inevitable I would end up on the board of directors.

And now, as it has always been, the biggest struggle is to find funds to keep the doors open. We work hard on grants and that does part of the job, but fundraising is a neverending effort.

So, on August 30th, as we celebrate our 20th anniversary, we are reviving our “An Evening With…” fundraiser — this year featuring Ash Beckham.

Ash is, simply put, amazing. While she has gained a lot of recognition and respect for her work with LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, questioning) topics, she also focuses heavily on youth issues and how important it is for them to realize their truth, no matter what that is. And a big part of that is having a place youth can call their own. A place like The Summit.

We used to call it a gala, and I still refer to it as such. In the prior years we have run it, the theme was Dress to the Nines, with a full sit-down meal, silent auction and speaker. But our original date was changed this year, and a new theme and dream were created. We are totally stoked to be holding the event at Winderberry Gardens/Edible Acres in Windermere, with food from local chefs. It will be an evening to mix and mingle and visit and laugh and love each other, dressing for fun and rocking your personal style. Kind of a… straw bale gala, shall we say?

Yup, another fundraiser. But hey, that is what we do, right? We come together, have a few laughs, donate a few dollars and make sure our community is truly all it can be.

And some of the auctions items are amazing.

Our honourary chair Brett Wilson is donating a lunch for four next summer at his Windermere beach home, complete with Brett as your personal chef, gifts of perfume and jewelry in one of the loveliest lakeside settings I have ever been to.

Another prize will be a Kananaskis bike tour with Paralympian bike champ Jaye Milley, who is not only just about as nice a guy as you can hope to meet, but one of our board members at large.

Or how about… an adrenaline package? Yep. Zip line down the ski jump at Canada Olympic Park and then bobsled at crazy speeds, courtesy of WinSport and Olympic bobsledder Jesse Lumsden, also a seriously nice guy.

Other items include an incredible dinner for eight at the home of Sherry and Harvey Doerr in their spectacular home on Lake Lillian, an in-your-home catered dinner from chef Randy MacSteven, a weekend for two at a condo in Calgary’s Eau Claire, art classes, a brand development package from the wildly talented Sarah Bennet of Prose Art, kayaking, a variety of gift certificates, art… the list goes on. Tickets are $40. You can get them from me (250-688-0059), from Sherry Doerr (250-688-0553), from Kelsey Prichard (250-342-3033) or at Selkirk Cellulars & Office Supplies in Invermere. There will be food, there will be drink, there will be laughter. Come join us. Youth only happens once… let’s make sure we make it the best it can be for our kids.