By Ginger DeShaney
After pivoting to online events for the last two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the South Boston Neighborhood House’s benefit and auction will be held in person for a night of food, drinks, silent and live auctions, and dancing.
“This year we are super excited to be back in person,” said Kathy Lafferty, executive director of the Neighborhood House, also known as the Ollie.
The House is Where the Heart Is gala will be held on Friday, April 8, in the Plaza Ballroom (with access to outdoor space) at the Seaport Hotel, starting at 6 p.m. Tickets are $125.
Because the online events were so popular, the gala will incorporate some virtual components this year.
For example, the silent auction will open a week before the gala so people will be able to bid online. “If you’re not coming to the event, you’ll still have an opportunity to bid on some of the items online,” Kathy said. And at the actual event, there will be mobile bidding.
“It’ll be great because it gives everybody an opportunity to bid even if they’re not in the room,” Kathy said. “And the people in the room can bid on their phones, so I think some of the lessons that we learned in the pandemic we’ll be able to carry over to this event and make it even better.”
Anyone can buy a $100 raffle ticket for a chance to win a three-night stay at the Meritage Resort and Spa in Napa Valley. The Napa Valley raffle is already open; visit https://bit.ly/3Ms3sQe to purchase your entry.
Live auction items – you must be present at the gala to bid – include a luxury suite for 14 people for a Boston Bruins game, including food and drink, and four tickets to the Winter Classic hockey game at Fenway Park with dinner and a hotel stay.
In addition, Tom Tinlin, the auctioneer, will announce opportunities throughout the event for people to make contributions of any level to support the Diaper Depot, the Ollie’s recently launched initiative.
The gala is known for its award presentations.
The Joseph “Dodo” Nee Champion Award is named in memory of a man who was a huge champion of the Neighborhood House and did so much for so many in South Boston, Kathy said. This year’s Champion Award goes to Dan Magoon, executive director of Massachusetts Fallen Heroes.
Every Friday throughout the pandemic, Dan delivered 400 boxes of food to the Neighborhood House that the Ollie staff got out to families in South Boston. This past holiday season, Dan donated a couple hundred winter coats to the Neighborhood House for families in need. “He does a lot of things behind the scenes,” Kathy said, like the work he does for veterans and families of veterans through Massachusetts Fallen Heroes, “but the impact that he has on South Boston families, a lot of people don’t know about.”
The Amy K. Murray Angel Award is named after a woman who worked at the Neighborhood House and had a huge impact on a lot of people, especially teens. Amy died unexpectedly at a very young age. Lorraine “Rainey” Fiasconaro, the Ollie’s senior program assistant, will receive the Angel Award.
Rainey, at the age of 92, recently decided to retire after working at the Neighborhood House for close to 30 years, Kathy said. Rainey worked in the senior programs, ran the exercise program with seniors, called bingo, served lunch, and was an inspiration to all.
The Ollie’s gala goal is to raise $350,000. “I think after coming out on the other side of a two-year pandemic, with lost funding and more program needs, we really need to make sure that we reach that goal this year, more than ever,” Kathy said.
“This fundraiser is really what keeps the lights on and the doors open at our organization.”
The Ollie has contracts and grants that are program-specific, Kathy said. “So really, this fundraiser is what takes care of everything that the program brands don’t fund. It’s the largest fundraiser that we have.
“And it’s really an opportunity for both the corporate world and the community to come together and support the work that we do.”
To buy event tickets or a raffle ticket for the Napa Valley prize, visit https://bit.ly/3Ms3sQe.