One of the most powerful facets of being human is the power to believe - the power that comes from believing in yourself, and the amazing things that you can accomplish when you believe in others. Tonight, hundreds of people gathered for the 26th Annual Opportunity Enterprises Gala to share in the belief that they too can make a difference.
Hosted by Delta Theta Tau Philanthropic Sorority, the long-running event has become a staple of the region and is one of the largest single-day fundraising events in Northwest Indiana, having raised more than $2 million since its inception in 1993.
Ellen DeMartinis has served as President and CEO of OE for the last four years.
“Every year continues to grow. It’s very [well] received by the community,” said DeMartinis. “We have a silent auction, as well as several items which will be going up for a live auction - trips, activities, dinners and more. We also have one of our clients who is doing live painting here tonight and her artwork will be featured and sold during tonight’s auction.”
DeMartinis says that proceeds from the Gala would go to help fund programs offered by Opportunity Enterprises, such as day programs and residential programs for people with disabilities, as well as job placement programs and more.
“There are so many services which we provide that state funding just doesn’t cover,” DeMartinis said. “Things like curriculum programs and art programs. There is no funding for those types of things, so if we weren’t doing fundraising, we wouldn’t have funding to continue those programs, but when you believe, that’s when good things can happen.”
Rick Urschel, President and CEO of Urschel Laboratories, was happy to return, serving as emcee for the event for the fourth straight year.
“This organization is just fantastic. We at Urschel even outsource our janitorial services to OE’s Servicemaster program, and they do an amazing job,” said Urschel. “We love the service they provide.”
“Providing an outlet for individuals with disabilities to be able to participate in the community, whether its something small or providing a valuable service to larger companies… that’s just a fantastic thing and I wish more communities had a service like Opportunity Enterprises.”
The Stardust Ballroom was packed to capacity, with more than 500 tickets for the event sold. Attendees enjoyed a catered dinner, as well as music by The Connexion Band and a special dance performance in addition to the night’s auction.
April Avanauskis, who has attended OE’s services since 2014, was happy for her artwork to be featured at the event, and says that the people at Opportunity Enterprises have always helped her when she needed it.
“They have good personalities,” Avanauskis said. “When I have troubles, or when I’m feeling down, they help me. We’re all working hard to present this industry to people here tonight. We believe that we can help people through anything that they may be going through.”
“My son has Down Syndrome, and he has been participating in OE’s services for the last 15 years,” said Lori Moulton, Branch Manager at First Source Bank. Moulton also chairs the Board of Directors for OE.
“When First Source had mentioned to me that they were looking for ways to give back to the community, my first thought was Opportunity Enterprises. That’s how I got involved with the board.”
Moulton is particularly appreciative of OE’s respite services.
“It’s a wonderful service that allows for families to take some much-needed time off while their loved one is cared for by OE’s resident services.”
In addition to the generous sponsorship of First Source Bank, the event also drew the benefits of local businesses such as Chester Inc, BMO Harris Bank, Family Express, Task Force Tips, and dozens more.
As the evening drew to a close the smiles shared by all those in attendance served as proof that believing in the power to help others is a very powerful thing, indeed.
“Anything that you go through, no matter who you are, you are special in your own way,” Avanauskis said. “You’re a good person, never forget that.”
For more information about Opportunity Enterprises, Inc. please visit www.oppent.org.