ALPENA - The Huron Humane Society will hold its annual gala dinner and auction on Saturday. The sold out event is the primary fundraising event during the year and provides the lion's share of operational funding for the shelter.
The Huron Humane Society is a "no kill" animal shelter in Alpena and run by limited staff and volunteers. Humane society fundraising coordinator Val Williams said the shelter is always filled to capacity and the money from the gala helps to offset the expense of caring for the animals and maintaining the facility.
"The gala is our top fundraiser every year and we typically raise between $10,000 and $20,000," Williams said. "Obviously it cost more than that to run the shelter for the entire year, but the money goes into the general fund and gets us to a good start as we head into our smaller fundraisers the rest of the year."
Over the course of the last year, volunteers have utilized material donations to make improvements at the shelter that allows for more storage, an area for one-on-one time between animals and potential families and additional animal housing. Williams said the expansion has allowed the shelter to care for more animals, but with that there is additional expense.
"I would say this year is more important than any other year because of the renovations and the fact we take in more animals than what we were able to before," Williams said. "We are a no-kill shelter and for whatever reason people don't keep their animals anymore. They get them and then they get rid of them and they end up back at the shelter."
This year's event will feature a dinner, as well as a silent and live action where many fine items will be available. Williams said there are several travel packages that will be up for auction including one to Disney World and another destination package that allows the auction's winner to select their vacation location from many spots in the United States. Williams said there also are getaway packages that are a little closer to home. She said there are retreats to Hubbard Lake, Long Lake, Gaylord and Petoskey.
Lynn Kendziorski serves as the chairman of the Gala Committee and has been involved with the event since its inception. She said work on the gala begins as soon as one is over and the committee's goal is to make each gala more successful each time when it is held.
"We have meetings to try to find ways to improve the event and the amount of donations," Kendziorski said. "We always want the gala to get better and for the people to have a great time. We want every gala to be the best one ever."
Both Williams and Kendziorski said the event would not be possible without the support of the local business community and public supporters of the animals in the shelter. Kendziorski said the people in Alpena have always stepped up in a big way whenever it is called upon for donations.
During the event several guest speakers will talk about the importance of the local shelter and there also will be celebrity servers during dinner. Some of the familiar faces will include former State Rep. Andy Neumann, former Mayor Carol Shafto and Sheriff Steve Kieliszewski.
Even though the event is sold out, raffle tickets for prizes are available to those unable to attend. The tickets are available at the Huron Humane Society on Woodward Avenue.
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review ... at www.thealpenanews.com