01-09 YMCA-05

Soccer is just one of the activities offered by the YMCA. The YMCA, a non-profit charity, depends on donations and fund-raisers for a good deal of their operating budget.

At 6 p.m. on Jan. 25, the Trinity Valley Community College room at the Palestine mall will turn into a ballroom, auction house, and fine restaurant for the YMCA gala – its first in 14 years.

“When I started here five years ago, one of my first questions was 'when is the gala event,'” YMCA CEO Cindy Piersol told the Herald-Press Wednesday. “ I couldn't believe we didn't have an annual event. More than 10,000 YMCAs across the country have an annual campaign.”

The gala, which raises funds for YMCA scholarships and youth development programs, took a 14-year hiatus because similar events helped fund the town's soccer complex.

“I was basically told we didn't want to tap the same people for donations twice,” Piersol said. “I finally had enough. People forget we're a charity. We're a community-run organization that depends on volunteers and donations. The fundamental YMCA needs must be met.”

Carl Simons, head of YMCA's Early Childhood Development program , said the gala is about more than raising funds.

“We want to inform the community of what the YMCA is all about,” he said. “Show them why it's important to have one in their community, and why it's so important for us to have a sustainability plan.”

Tickets for the event, including dinner, dancing, music, and silent and “life” auctions, are $35.

“We call it a 'life' auction, and not a live auction, because the proceeds go directly towards improving the life of someone in our community,” Piersol said.

VIP tables of 8 are also available for $300. Tickets will be available until the day of the event, or until their limited number runs out.

“Dinner will be cooked by a number of chefs, and the dessert bar will feature sweets from a number of East Texas local businesses,” Piersol said. “Just like the YMCA itself, the gala is going to be community-driven.”

For questions, or to purchase tickets, visit the YMCA, or call Cindy Piersol at 903-729-3139.

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