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Caledon Community Services’ annual gala brings hope to community

Caledon residents enjoyed a formal night out for a good cause last Friday.

On December 1, Caledon Community Services (CCS) hosted its annual Home for the Holidays fundraising gala. This year, its theme was “Hope Under the Stars”.

The gala was held at the Royal Ambassador Event Centre in Caledon East.

Geraldine Aguiar, CEO of CCS, said the gala is a testament to the commitment of the Caledon community to helping each other.

“We feel really humbled and honoured to see all of the sponsors and attendance,” said Aguiar, noting well over 400 people were at the gala.

Aguiar said the “Hope Under the Stars” theme was fitting — she said the many sponsors and donors at the gala were stars who will make amazing things happen for families in need in Caledon. She said everyone at the gala was there to bring hope to the community while having a fun night out.

Laura Boughen, Stephen Julian, and Jacqui Viaene were the co-chairs of this year’s gala.

Boughen is a member of CCS’ Board of Directors and has been helping out with the galas for a few years now. She said her favourite part of the experience is seeing the community come together to support all of the different programs and services that CCS offers.

The 2023 gala was the eleventh Julian has helped out with.

“Back in 2013, my sister was volunteering for CCS, and I had some health challenges. I used to live in (Toronto) but I came back to Caledon and then I got better… I had kidney disease but I went into remission,” said Julian. “I was loved back to health by the community, friends, and family. So I wanted to give back to that community.”

Julian started volunteering by soliciting donations. He has a sales background and said he loves talking to people. Over the years he became even more involved until he became a co-chair of the galas. Julian said five or six years ago, the galas really began to grow in size thanks to Johanna Chevalier and Anne Thompson.

There were 46 tables of 10 tickets sold for the 2023 gala, and Julian said even before the night’s auctions had begun, $330,000 was raised from sponsors.

“The main reason I volunteer for Caledon Community Services is I completely agree with their vision,” said Julian. “29 per cent more people year over year are using the Exchange (CCS’ food bank).”

Viaene has also been volunteering with CCS for many years. As an interior designer, she played a key role in decorating for this year’s gala. The banquet hall felt like a starry night, with colour themes of blue, silver and gold throughout. Each table had a beautiful centerpiece and there were stars projected on the hall’s roof.

Viaene said the “Hope Under the Stars” theme ties in well with CCS’ Season of Hope fundraising campaign.

Zachary Roman, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Caledon Citizen