Home of Guiding Hands 42nd Annual Cabaret Gala celebrates growth in programs and services

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It was night nothing short of spectacular as more than 300 people gathered at the US Grant Hotel for the Home of Guiding Hands 42nd Annual Gala. With a bohemian/cabaret theme, the HGH Cabaret Rouge Gala provided a superb evening of mingling, dining, dancing and much more. And all for the more than 1,500 children, adolescents and adults with developmental disabilities in San Diego and Imperial Counties.

It was night nothing short of spectacular as more than 300 people gathered at the US Grant Hotel for the Home of Guiding Hands 42nd Annual Gala. With a bohemian/cabaret theme, the HGH Cabaret Rouge Gala provided a superb evening of mingling, dining, dancing and much more. And all for the more than 1,500 children, adolescents and adults with developmental disabilities in San Diego and Imperial Counties.

The HGH Gala Committee outdid themselves in preparing for the night’s festivities, beginning with some magnificent silent auction items provided by many very generous sponsors. In tandem, raffle tickets for opportunity drawings, personal caricatures, mystery wine bottle purchases, and some great photo ops added to the flavor of the night and providing an entertaining way of giving.

As you walked into the ballroom, it was breathtakingly decorated, and matched the many people that lived the theme for the evening in their best roaring 20s tuxedos, flapper dresses and elegant eveningwear. And that was just the beginning of the night’s lineup of events. With an elegant meal, live auction items and the HGH traditional Fund-a-Cause, the night then turned to lively dancing with music provided by The Mighty Untouchables, and the Casino Rouge opened house for players with a cause.

And that cause is HGH’s Residential, Community Living, Adult Family Home, Early Child Development, Respite, Transportation and Counseling & Family Support and Life Planning Programs. Within the walls of these founded programs, HGH provides services with 31 homes, support independence and self-sufficiency, transitioning into a family setting, providing early intervention for ages birth to 3-years-old, respite services for families and much more.

“What an amazing night! Thank you to the San Diego community and HGH family in helping us exceed our goal by raising over $108,000 for people with developmental disabilities. This night’s success would not have been possible without the participation of generous donors, sponsors, volunteers, and our dedicated Gala committee,” said Mark Klaus, Home of Guiding Hands CEO & president.

Through the evening, it was HGH’s clients that held the spotlight, sharing their experiences, telling their stories and showing generous donors exactly where their money was going and why.

HGH also gave some special recognition to this year’s Gala Honorees Jim and Jean O’Grady.

Jim O’Grady met Home of Guiding Hands through the Kiwanis Club. One of his friends in the club was president of HGH at the time and he and another Kiwanis took him to breakfast, wanting to talk with him about something special.

“They told me about Home of Guiding Hands, and I had already heard a lot of good things about it and they thought I would make a good board member,” he said. “I did some due diligence on the web, met with Carol Fitzgibbons who was the executive director at that time to make sure it was a good organization and that I would be a good fit for it.”

Jim O’Grady joined the Board of Directors in January 2008. He said over time he was vice president, and president of the Board. He said he loves hiking and bicycling and would take epic adventures, many times tying these “adventures” into fundraising events for HGH. He hiked Mt. Kilimanjaro, rode seven days through the Texas hills country, all the while fundraising, many times one mile at a time. Also on the board he helped with the Strategic Planning Committee and helped in hiring HGH’s current CEO & President Mark Klaus. “Which is one of the best things we could have ever done,” he said.

“I’m so happy with Mark and the wonderful staff,” he said. “I’ve gotten to meet some of the residents and staff and the work that the Home of Guiding Hands does is amazing. How they enrich the lives of these people that they serve is so gratifying to see.”

He said soon after he came on the board, he “roped” Jean (his wife), letting her know that HGH is always looking for volunteers.

“I’m not a board person, but I can step in works with the best of them,” said Jean O’Grady. “And that is a need that they had too. So I try to volunteer to do those kind of things when I can.”

Jim O’Grady said they’ve gone to some holiday parties together and she is always supportive of his being on the board and they have attended every gala since, along with Teas and Walks fundraisers.

“It (HGH) has been a good growth,” he said. “When I came on the board it had 26 or 27 homes, all serving adults. We had respite programs, but we were contracting for transportation and much more limited services than we have now.”

He said with the leadership of Kraus, the staff and the board and a couple of mergers with other smaller organizations that deal with early intervention services and transportation, residents are getting better services.

“We have more houses now, we are serving people with Autism, and with this growth we have a wonderful respite program and now serving people out in Imperial County,” he said. “The growth has been good,” he said.

He said there were other opportunities to grow, but they were not right, so HGH’s growth has been cautious and smart. He said his longtime experience with HGH is a wonderful relationship.

“We have been so thrilled to be a part of such a wonderful organization,” said Jim O’Grady.

Jean O’Grady supports staff through monthly mailings, hosting gatherings, opening her home for Board of Directors events, several committees and during the holidays adopts HGH’s Grandfork home, a personal honor for the time they lived in Grand Fork, North Dakota.

They both said they were very humbled at being honored at this gala and that many extraordinary people have been recognized in the past. “Even to be mentioned in the same breath with them is an honor,” he said.

Although the annual gala is the largest fundraiser of the year, the Home of Guiding Hands is in constant need of monetary and personal assistance. To find out how you can be part of the Home of Guiding Hands visit www.guidinghands.org.

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