Habitat’s Holiday Gala Aims To Raise Local Awareness

Habitat

BERLIN — With the support of local restaurants, businesses and talent, the Habitat for Humanity of Worcester County will be holding its inaugural Holiday Gala for Homes this month at the Atlantic Hotel in Berlin.
The event is poised to be one of the organization’s biggest events and is part of an ongoing “re-branding” effort, according to Executive Director Andrea Bowland.
“That’s why we are conducting this gala. It’s kind of to put the organization back into the community and for all of these efforts. We’re pretty much re-branding our entire operation,” she said.
The gala should serve as an ideal way to put habitat front in center. The black-tie event will include a silent auction, four bands and food from some of the county’s most popular restaurants.
“We actually have nine restaurants that are coming and they’re donating a lot of the food for us. And they’re bringing all of these things. It’s really a top-notch event,” said Bowland.
Everyone involved is supportive of habitat’s goal of providing quality housing for every Worcester resident, she added.
“We couldn’t be more excited about this event. It affords us the opportunity to bring together the superior talent of area chefs, local and regional musical acts, and members of our community, all in support of Worcester County families in need,” Bowland said.
Habitat already has a strong presence in Worcester and is more than two-thirds of the way toward the “20 Families Served in 20 Years,” goal for 2014. All proceeds from the Holiday Gala will be applied to that initiative.
There are a few misconceptions about Habitat that Bowland is hoping to clarify during this re-branding process.  HFHWC isn’t building homes and giving them away but is instead working with local families during construction. Families pitch in along with Habitat volunteers throughout the building process and then pay the remainder of the cost to habitat. However, unlike a bank, Habitat is non-profit and charges no interest on the loans it provides to the homeowners, who have already paid for part of the house through their own labor, according to Bowland.
One other misconception is who Habitat is helping. The organization serves families who are making between 30 and 60 percent of the area average income, meaning that many more people qualify than most expect.
“These families are literally your friends and your co-workers,” said Bowland.
The gala will be broken into four separate stages running from 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 16. Attendees start in a tent outside of the Atlantic Hotel with appetizers and a cocktail hour. Next they hit the ballroom for dinner and dancing followed by a trip to the “comfort food and craft beer” station later in the night. The evening ends with desert and a closing band performance in a final outdoor tent. An after party will be held at Burley Oak Brewery with transportation provided.
The town of Berlin and all of Worcester County have really stepped-up for the gala, according to Bowland.
“A lot has gone into this. We’ve got so much support for it and it really makes me feel good to see the community come together like that,” she said.
Bowland is especially excited for the Atlantic Hotel to play host for the night, as in a lot of ways it is the face of Berlin and representative of the town’s “community minded” attitude.
Tickets for the event are $125 apiece and are available at www.habitatworcester.org. For more information, email inquire@habitatworcester.org.

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