Open Arms Gala
The idea for this project began at a cookout in 2016 for the clients of ROC, a day shelter for the homeless. One of the men, when being served his hamburger said jokingly, “What, no Steak”. The seed was planted with those three words and the Open Arms Gala was born. President Daniel Barnhardt decided this was the prefect event to be his President’s project. A committee was formed and met at a local resturant to make plans. The idea was to welcome the clients from ROC to a steak dinner with white glove service. We wanted them to feel the love of Christ with “Open Arms”.
Tasks were assigned, a menu formed and a location, 1st ARP Church, was secured at no charge. Formal invitations were designed and printed and given to ROC staff to pass out. The bottom portion was an RSVP that had their preference of Steak and how it should be cooked or Chicken. White table cloths and hydrangeas were donated, elegant plastic cups, plates and flatware were purchased, and a local butcher shop contacted about suppling the large order we would need to feed our guests. A Signup Genius was created with specific jobs; Grill Masters, Photo Booth Designers, Table Decorators, Meal Preparers, Photographers, DJ, Corsage designer and Conversationalists, who would sit at each table and direct conversation with our guests. Pioneers provided baked potatoes and green beans, salad, cupcakes, rolls and tea. Drawstring backpacks, donated by Comporium were filled with personal hygiene items by the Pioneer Kids Club who then wrote encouraging notes for each. Raffle items were purchased for the end of evening surprise and a list of Karaoke songs were loaded on a laptop. One hundred and one people returned their RSVP’s, so we knew we had a lot of work to do for sure.
A lunch and learn was conducted the day before by ROC to inform Pioneers how to talk to the guests and how to handle any uncomfortable situation that might arise. The day of the event arrived, and Pioneers began arriving at the Church at noon to set up. From a bare room, the hall was soon transformed into a beautiful and welcoming Gala! The local news station, CN2, sent a reporter to cover the evening. Our guests began arriving at 6:00 and were welcomed at the door with a corsage by an escort who took them to the photo booth, if they wanted to have their picture taken and then to the table where their nameplate was. Each table had a personal waiter dressed in black slacks and white shirt who serve their dinner. A violinist played soft music and took requests as dinner was served and eaten. Pioneer conversationalists kept discussions at the table lively. When dinner was finished it was time for Karaoke, it took a little persuading to get the first to volunteer to sing but after that the music and laugher flowed. We even had a few that wanted to dance.
The raffle was an enormous success as guests won gift cards they could use at local stores. Unfortunately, all who signed up to attend did not make it for one reason or another, but we happily made those who did feel welcome, loved and special. All too soon the evening came to an end as our guests needed to leave to go the places they sleep before nightfall arrived, but not before getting the backpacks lovingly filled by our Kids Club. Pioneers spent the next several hours cleaning the event hall and kitchen to make it even more spotless than it was upon our arrival. While we know our guests had a wonderful time, we were so blessed to be able to give them an evening to remember.
2017 Pioneer Project