Sarasota | The 2018 Charity Ball season got off to a great start on two consecutive weekends as hundreds came out to enjoy evenings of fine dining and music all in support of the programs of Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice, Inc.
The Jan. 27 Sarasota Charity Ball and the Feb. 3 Venetian Ball are key fundraising events for Catholic Charities that goes to directly support the many programs in the region including for victims of human trafficking, families who are hungry, youth who are at-risk of failing in school, immigrants struggling to achieve self-sufficiency, frail seniors fighting to remain independent, veterans and many more.
Bishop Frank J. Dewane told the patrons at the Sarasota Charity Ball that the generosity of donors like those present, allows Catholic Charities to continue lifting families and individuals out of poverty and positively impacting their lives.
“It is your patronage that improves the lives of those who come to Catholic Charities looking for a way out of despair, looking for support to regain self-sufficiency,” Bishop Dewane said. “Catholic Charities is blessed to be able to be there to assist our brothers and sisters in Christ.”
The Sarasota Charity Ball, held at the Ritz-Carlton, benefitted the programs of Catholic Charities in Sarasota and Manatee counties, which include Our Mother’s House, Bethesda House and more. Ball Co-Chairs were Julie Delaney, Mary Kenealy-Barbetta and Jane Norton.
Silent auction items included wine and jewelry, and then John Curley, auctioneer, encouraged those gathered to be generous for the live auction. People won trips but they were also generous when the time came for the “Giving from the Heart” portion of the evening. This was highlighted by a guest who shared the positive benefits Catholic Charities had on his life. In a surprise for the evening, Sarasota resident Dick Vitale, a college basketball announcer and analyst for ESPN, also offered words of encouragement in his unique way. Music was by the Soul Sensations.
The Venetian Charity Ball was held at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa in Bonita Springs. Proceeds benefitted programs and and services of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice Inc. in Lee, Hendry, and Glades counties, including AFCAAM, Clare House and more. In addition to silent and live auctions, the event included drawings for a car, computer and a tablet. With the guidance of the Ball Advisory Board Chair Patti Maurillo, the evening was a rousing success. Music was by The Alter Ego Band.
As is the tradition for this annual event, the Frank Galeana Sr. Humanitarian Award was presented a well-deserving and very familiar recipient: Lois Thome, a parishioner, lector and religious education teacher at Resurrection of Our Lord Parish in Fort Myers. Thome is also co-anchor of WINK News and is well-known for her support to many charities throughout the region, she also happens to serve as the Venetian Ball Mistress of Ceremonies.