ALPENA - The Huron Humane Society depends greatly on funds raised from its annual gala. The money raised will help support operations and care for the animals at the shelter. Last year's event raised approximately $18,000 and it is hoped this year's gala on March 22, can equal or top that amount.
Shelter Manager Natalie Francis said the event is the largest fundraiser the shelter has each year and it has become a must-attend event locally, not just because of the cause, but because people enjoy it. She said getting tickets to the event has become a struggle for some people because they are grabbed quickly by those wanting to attend. She said this year there were 200 tickets available for the event at the Sanctuary Inn and they allhave been purchased.
"It sells out faster and faster every year and this year was the fastest thus far. We had people inquiring about tickets before we even had them printed out," Francis said. "It has become one of the area's marquee events and we are thrilled with the way it is received and the support we get for it."
Francis knows there are many people who would like to attend the party, which features a prime rib dinner, a cash bar, as well as a live and silent auction, but they can't get tickets. She said they can still donate to the shelter and possibly win some money by purchasing 50-50 tickets that are available at the humane society, Take-5 Deli and Real Estate One. Francis said other donations can be dropped off at the shelter as well.
The winter has been tough on the shelter and its budget. Besides seeing an increase in the number of animals being housed, heating costs also climbed significantly. Francis said in February the shelter was operating week to week and that hasn't changed.
"This last year we have really been hurting and the cost of propane alone this winter has really had a large impact," Francis said. "The money from the gala helps us with utility bills like those and to just keep the shelter running and we do the best we can to be fiscally responsible, while keeping the animals safe and healthy."
There has been a significant amount of work done at the shelter that is allowing for better living conditions for the animals, a better working environment for the staff and save money on energy costs. The work includes a meet-and-greet room, as well as many new kennels for the dogs. There is also a new isolation room. Most of the work has been done thanks to donations of material and labor. Francis said she is proud of the community, because every time the shelter needs assistance, people rally to help.
"Everyone is so generous and caring about the animals," Francis said. "The local businesses and craftsmen donate some great, unique items for the auction and I'm sure as in years past, people are going to love this year's gala."
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