Just as our interview approached a hardy farewell, Urban Ministries of Wake County Executive Director Peter Morris shared something no organizer of the 12th annual Enloe High School Student Council Charity Ball thought to mention.
While he was thrilled Urban Ministries is the benefactor of this year’s fundraiser, Morris was stunned to learn the student-run event had never been awarded for its efforts to donate nearly $500,000 to local charities since 2004.
So Morris, a pediatrician, nominated Enloe students for the Youth Philanthropy Award presented by the Triangle Association of Fundraising Professionals on Nov. 15.
“And they won,” Morris said.
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Rightfully so, we agreed.
“They don’t need recognition to realize their community benefits from their efforts, but the real honor goes to the students,” Morris said. “It’s an amazing commitment they make to the community and the winning agency – truly giving back in a tangible way.”
The Enloe Student Council hopes to present Urban Ministries a check for $120,000 during the Charity Ball on Dec. 10 at Marbles Kids Museum in downtown Raleigh. Tickets for the public event range from $35 to $50, with additional sponsorship opportunities.
So far the group has raised roughly $70,000, said Grace Brown, the student council’s vice president of public relations. That includes the second consecutive $5,000 Gold Eagle Sponsor donation from Chiesi USA, a health care company with an office in Cary.
The students chose Urban Ministries because the nonprofit’s services – primarily centered on hunger, homelessness and health care – is a compilation of the charities the school’s annual fundraiser has helped over the years.
Urban Ministries says it has helped 1,588 people in the past year with medical and prescription costs. The agency also has helped more than 400 homeless women find safety, and it opens its pantry for as many as 50 families to pick up a week’s worth of groceries.
To encourage a shift in language, Morris describes the agency’s focus as home, nutrition and health in order to emphasize outcomes, not output.
“We now think of it as not only hand in service, but as hearts and voice in efficacy,” he said. “To be the Charity Ball benefactor is like winning the lottery, not simply because of the fundraising the students do, but because it’s fundraising coupled with volunteerism.”
As the council’s vice president of service leading the Charity Ball, senior Julia Weaver has emphasized “not just the money we raise, but why we’re raising the money” and “to see the real impact we are having, regardless of any check.”
“I’ve been really humbled by the whole experience,” said Weaver, 17. “You don’t have to wait until you’re an adult to inspire change. You can be an example even as a high school student making a positive impact.”
Planning began at a summer retreat, followed by social media and fundraising campaigns, a blog and school-wide volunteerism at Urban Ministries. Students in Enloe’s Medical Bio-Science Academy shadowed at the organization’s Open Door Clinic, while others volunteered at the Helen Wright Center for Women and the food pantry.
This truth emerged for students during a shared creative writing workshop at the center: “Even though they’re homeless, they still have a voice,” said Nate Barilich, an Enloe English teacher and Charity Ball adviser. “They may be older. They may not have a home right now. But they have the same desires and needs in life.”
Students hosted an art auction at the Visual Art Exchange on Dec. 3.
Space Jam on Dec. 8 will feature Enloe students and local musicians in concert at Market Hall downtown. Tickets are $20.
And new this year: A deejay instead of a live band, and a day for teachers to volunteer at the food pantry.
Urban Ministries will use its Charity Ball gift over three years and reinvigorate its volunteer program, Morris said.
“We couldn’t do what we do without volunteers,” he said. “It’s going to be delightful.”
Find out more
To buy tickets to the Charity Ball, go to http://bit.ly/2g82Yzq.