HOUGHTON, Michigan, December 6, 2016 – Mark your calendar, dig out your dancing shoes, and join us on Wednesday, December 14, 2016 for a collaborative holiday celebration with a cause! For a second year, the Keweenaw Chamber of Commerce, Keweenaw Young Professionals (KYP), and Keweenaw Economic Development Alliance (KEDA) will join together at the Continental Fire Company to host the Keweenaw Business Ball. The reason for this seasonal gathering is more than just good cheer, dressing up and networking, as it hopes to once again raise funds to help feed our hungry neighbors and provide local scholarships.
Brian Donnelly, President of the Keweenaw Chamber of Commerce Board explained, “We want to bring together our local businesses and community by hosting an event where they can relax, network and still help out two great causes; a local food pantry and the high school skilled trades scholarship program.”
The event will provide hors d’oeuvres by Finlandia University Catering, classic holiday music performed live by Dan Fuhrman, and a cash bar will be available. There is a $25 suggested donation to attend the event with last year’s ball raising a total of $1,500 for the Baraga-Houghton-Keweenaw (BHK) Community Action Agency (Western UP Food Bank). These generous donations allowed the food pantry to purchase around 18,750 pounds of food for distribution to local families.
“This year, I would love to see our community raise even more money to donate. When our organizations work together, we all see more success. Our counties were created with collaboration and looking out for our neighbors; so it is fitting to benefit the BHK Community Action Agency, a group that works to improve lives and reduce poverty in our area,” explains Amanda McConnon, President of the Keweenaw Young Professionals.
The BHK Community Action Agency was established in 1965, and is a locally operated, private nonprofit corporation designed to develop, administer and carry out programs that have a direct impact on the causes and instances of poverty. Part of their mission is helping people to help themselves. Jean LaBerge, the Executive Director for the BHK Community Action Agency (CAA) stated that what they need most are additional funds to purchase food for the pantry. The food bank is able to purchase food at $.08 a pound, so it is more beneficial for them to purchase food items directly rather than processing donated food items. Currently, the food Pantry Program has 1,328 eligible households with 2,341 members enrolled and they serve around 500 households each time they host a pick up.
Additionally, during the event KEDA will be hosting a silent auction including various products and services donated by local businesses. The silent auction is an opportunity to bring awareness of local businesses while also raises approximately half of the funds needed to award a $500 scholarships to one graduating senior at each of the nine area high schools going into an industrial, construction or skilled service trade training program.
“We couldn’t do this without the support from all of the businesses in Baraga, Houghton, and Keweenaw Counties who generously provided items for this auction and provide cash sponsorships,” said Jeff Ratcliffe, KEDA’s executive director. “They understand the amazing opportunity it provides for each of the scholarship recipient.” The KEDA skilled trades scholarship program has awarded 34 scholarships totaling $17,000 since 2013.
The Keweenaw Business Ball is scheduled for Wednesday, December 14th at the Continental Fire Company, 408 E Montezuma Avenue beginning at 6:30 pm. To pre-register and make your donation please visit the Keweenaw Chamber of Commerce website or visit http://www.keweenaw.org/
The CAA also has a need for volunteers to assist with packing and carrying boxed food items. Although the Agency’s primary mission focuses on providing assistance to the needy, the CAA continues to broaden and modify its local Service Delivery System to include programs and services that benefit every sector of the community. Currently, many of their benefits offered by BHK are available to area residents, regardless of age, or income. The CAA utilizes Federal, State, Local and private resources in assuring that every person may, if they so choose, attain the skills, knowledge and motivation needed to become fully self sufficient. Like their logo indicates, they are helping people to help themselves. You can find more information on the CAA at www.mcaaa.org.