Home of Guiding Hands’ ‘Under the Big Top’ Gala brings hundreds in support of 50 years of service

0
106
WEBHGH.jpg

Home of Guiding Hands has come a long way since its first 14-acre campus in Lakeside for people with developmental disabilities 50 years ago. Now with 31 four to six person homes and community and home based services it serves individuals with developmental disabilities from birth to their elderly years. So a celebration was definitely in order.

Home of Guiding Hands has come a long way since its first 14-acre campus in Lakeside for people with developmental disabilities 50 years ago. Now with 31 four to six person homes and community and home based services it serves individuals with developmental disabilities from birth to their elderly years. So a celebration was definitely in order.

At its 43rd Gala, “HGH Under the Big Top, the Greatest Gala on Earth!” it was a splendid time for all who joined in the festivity of the circus themed fundraiser. Ring masters, jugglers, balancing acts, contortionists, and many people dressed in circus theme met the large crowd that came to support the work that HGH does every day, 365 days a year. Held at the historic US Grant Hotel on June 24, it was the perfect setting for a night of meeting, dining, entertainment and dancing with The Mighty Untouchables, casino play and most important, fundraising for the increasing needs that HGH offers throughout San Diego and Imperial County.

HGH President and CEO Mark Klaus said it was great seeing more than 350 people attend “The Greatest Gala on Earth,” at least the greatest in HGH’s 50 year history. He said it could not have happened without the amazing Gala Committee, the HGH Board of Directors, the wonderful volunteers, and most important, the guest that attended.

“We raise more than $175,000 to improve the lives of the approximately 2,000 children, adolescents and adults with developmental disabilities that HGH supports annually in both San Diego and Imperial Counties,” he said.

Klaus said that events like the Gala, its annual golf outing and the Randy Jones/HGH Walk for independence raise much needed funds for HGH and allow it to enhance the services, quality of life and fund access to its community for so many of the individuals that it supports.

“San Diego is an absolutely amazing community and the individuals we support want what we all want. To go to the beach, to catch a Padres game, to take a few days to go to Disneyland and more,” he said. “Without the support at so many of our events, this would not be possible. We are grateful for the support we receive from so many.

This year’s Gala Honorees Dave and Charlene Walker for their long term help with people with developmental disabilities. Dave Walker is the Board President for two HGH HUD Group Homes and a valuable committee member of the Capital Campaign. Both he and Charlene serve on HGH’s Board of Governors. Both have been heavily involved with HGH since 1997.

Dave Walker said together, they have worked on several projects together, refurbishing homes and making donations. Each year Charlene Walker sponsors a home or two for Christmas while Dave plays Santa Claus, and then he will move on to other homes to deliver presents.

Dave Walker said his parents and an HGH board member introduced them to what HGH does for clients with intellectual and developmental disabilities. He said after going to a few events they realized what a wonderful organization HGH is and wanted to further their commitment in its needs for services.

“We met years ago,” said Dave Walker. “We both had regular jobs and were both volunteering for different organizations in San Diego. Charlene was teaching horseback riding, I was teaching swimming and ice-skating. City Parks and Recreation got everyone together for a huge ball and Charlene was a waitress and I was a busboy. We met at this event and started dating and through the years began working with organizations that helped people with special needs.”

Dave Walker said they work with Miracle League of San Diego coaching a baseball team for children with special needs. A hand on involvement is what the Walkers love doing most. He said their three children, Josh, Brandon and Brooke have volunteered by their sides.

“In their own lives, they do their part too,” he said. “So with all of us, there is an involvement in the community that goes beyond HGH, but HGH is a great organization because it is from birth to many who are well into their 80s and these people need a lot of help.”

Klaus said the work that the Walkers do for HGH is remarkable, appreciated and needed to support the programs that help their clients on a daily basis. He also said that it is wonderful to be celebrating 50 years and in looking over the audience, seeing faces that have worked with HGH from the beginning.

Dave Walker said they were humbled to be honored and it was difficult to take in. He said working with HGH has been a wonderful journey for both of them. “When I met Charlene, she worked with people with special needs. That was her focus. Charlene does not see the disability. She sees the smiles, she sees the life in the eyes, she sees the beauty in the individuals and it is a pleasure to be around that,” he said.

HGH provides support through residential homes, in-home respite, early childhood development, life planning, community living, adult family homes, and counseling, family support and transportation services.

To find out more about the Home of Guiding Hands, its mission, the need for volunteers and donations and how to become involved visit www.guidinghands.org.