Fast-forward 23 years and more than $700,000 later, and it’s amazing to see all of the groups and organizations that have benefited from the investment of Sequoyah Ball funds. In some cases, the cash raised paid for brick and mortar. In other instances it was programming and community services. But in each case, it’s possible today to see how those dollars literally made the difference in goals being realized. The many dividends from those success stories cannot even begin to be counted.
The 2011 gala will be an event of Saturday, March 5. The location, 211 Darby, a palatial private home just outside town, is new, and was selected as much for the ambiance and amenities, as it was to support the Gordon County Chamber of Commerce’s “Keep It in the County” campaign. Ball tickets are $100.00 per person and attendance is limited. In addition to a delectable buffet of heavy finger foods, there will be music for dancing by India Galyean and her band, silent auctions, live auctions, and door prizes. There are many auction items available for bid by ball guests, and there are a number of new items this year. But the only way they’re available is to buy a ticket and attend the Ball. Contact Bridgett Oliver at 706-629-1930 to purchase individual tickets or to buy an entire table.
From a first year proceeds total of $10,500.00 to a ball record of $54,000.00 in 2003, there have been 22 more success stories over the past 23 years. Anticipation is great for 2011, when Echota Pet Advocacy and Rescue Group is the selected recipient, and the unofficial goal is to exceed three-quarters of a million dollars total proceeds to date.
So how have Sequoyah Ball investments paid dividends? Here’s a small glimpse…
The Harris Arts Center received the ball proceeds at a time when the fledgling organization had undertaken the highly ambitious task of converting the empty shell of the former Rooker Hotel into a permanent home. According to current Executive Director Toni Molleson, the funds not only bolstered cash on hand for the renovation project, but inspired the community as a whole to get behind the project and support it with their additional dollars. Today the Center boasts the original building, as well as a second new building expansion of the original facility. The complex, which includes a performing arts theater, along with gallery and classroom space and the Roland Hayes Arts Guild, is busily engaged throughout the week and on weekends with a wide variety of opportunities.
At the New Echota Historic Site stands a stately, two-storied log building known as the Council House. While the structure looks as if it could have been there since the Cherokees occupied the town in the 1820s and 1830s, this building isn’t quite 20 years old. $13,000 in funds from the 1992 Sequoyah Ball was the foundation for the construction of this important addition to the site, and its historical and educational programming.
The Boys & Girls Club in Gordon County began as the dream of a few in 2002 and was initially housed in a donated school classroom. Fast forward more than eight years and today the public can visit the organization in its new home, where they serve more than 100 school-age children a day. It’s easy to see the physical growth and accomplishment as well as the intangible value of the life-changing services Boys & Girls Club offers to its members.
But there has been so much more. Critical care areas of Gordon Hospital were better prepared to meet community health needs, thanks to Ball proceeds in 1989 and 1995. Children’s teeth that probably wouldn’t have seen the dentist were helped through the 2003 fund-raising ball. The historic depot in downtown Calhoun got such an unimaginative “gift” as a new roof, thanks to $13,500.00 raised in 1991. Not only did this new roof provide for the rescue and stabilization of a historic structure, but with the renovation that followed, the community received another badly-needed public meeting venue. The new roof was the catalyst that allowed everything else to happen.
From educational outreach and community improvement via such organizations as Citizens Against Meth and Imagination Station, citizens county-wide benefitted. Outdoor recreation in the form of the Calhoun River Park got a hand-up when the Woman’s Club members selected it as the recipient in 1996, and renovation of the historic GEM Theater, soon to be another destination location in downtown Calhoun, got a giant boost of almost $45,000.00 in 2004. Homeless individuals were assisted when The Bridge was in the 2009 spotlight, and Habitat for Humanity built yet another house when it received the 1999 proceeds.
The list goes on. So does the philanthropy of the Calhoun Woman’s Club, which was founded in 1902. Club members early on saw the need for public restrooms for ladies and children in downtown, and took action. In the process, a small lending library was also established, and that institution still exists today as the Calhoun-Gordon County Library. The club’s mission then and now is the improvement of this place its members call home. Whether it’s bathrooms or books, history or homes, children or canines, the club’s heritage is one of community betterment. It’s against this mission first established just over 100 years ago that plans are coming together now for the 2011 Sequoyah Ball. And it’s in view of this same mission that preliminary groundwork is already being laid for the 25th Ball in 2012.
Ball recipients by year have been: 1988 – Calhoun-Gordon County Library; 1989 – Gordon Hospital Emergency Room; 1990 – Battered Women’s Shelter; 1991 – The Calhoun Depot; 1992 – New Echota; 1993 – Senior Citizens and the Arts Council; 1994 – Big Brothers Big Sisters; 1995 – Gordon Hospital ICU; 1996 – Calhoun River Park; 1997 – Imagination Station; 1998 – Arts Council; 1999 – Habitat for Humanity; 2000 – Voluntary Action Center; 2001 – Winner’s Club; 2002 – Gordon County Commission on Children and Youth; 2003 – Calhoun/Gordon County Dental Program; 2004 – GEM Theater; 2005 – Boys & Girls Club; 2006 – Community Foundation; 2007 – Boys & Girls Club; 2008 – Citizens Against Meth; 2009 – The Bridge; 2010 – Voluntary Action Center.