Popped and Poured
By Hanna Fridhed, Connect Contributor
It turned out to be a beautiful September evening. The Shell Place Grand Ballroom was buzzing with wine connoisseurs, members of the social profit sector and community stakeholders during the annual wine auction in support of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Wood Buffalo (BBBSWB) on September 24. This year marked the 7th anniversary of the event, and the ballroom had been transformed into a purple steampunk-themed wine wonderland.
With the event tagged as ‘The Empourium’, it featured several premium wine tasting stations, where the 300 estimated guests learned different tasting techniques. These were complemented by hors d’oeuvres and spirits, as well as a large number of both live and silent auction items.
The auction – sponsored by SMS Equipment – raised funds towards the BBBSWB’s programming throughout the community.
BBBSWB is a child and youth volunteer based mentoring charity, which has been active in Wood Buffalo since 1979. Their executive director Joanne Angel is hoping to raise $90,000 during the auction, the same amount that was raised during the previous year’s event.
“We are expanding our programs moving forward with our Full Circle Mentoring program, which will now be present in twelve schools instead of four,” said Angel. “We will also have mentors available in Janvier, something we haven’t had before and we have new staff joining the team. A lot of things are coming together.”
Social profit cheers to celebrating philanthropy
The night’s celebration presented an opportunity for Big Brothers Big Sisters to regain income lost during the evacuation, as their daily operations are returning to normal with staff and clients, as well as sponsors and stakeholders.
Several sponsors from previous auctions had to refrain from monetary donations this year because of the impact the fire and evacuation has had on local businesses, but most were more than happy to donate silent auction items and other in kind pieces.
The auction is a popular community event and gives the guests an opportunity to sample new and interesting wines from around the world. It’s a chance to try wines that might otherwise have gone unexperienced.
This year also featured champagne – a new, but welcomed feature – at the auction.
“Our other events are usually geared towards family-friendly fun,” Angel explained. “The wine auction is our way of celebrating our stakeholders and to give people an opportunity to network.”
Many guests have attended every auction since the launch seven years ago, two of them being Sean Hare and Lynn Gould. Gould’s favorite wine from the auction was a Chilean bottle from 1998, the year she graduated.
She ended up in a bidding war over the bottle with her supervisor, who outbid her by no more than a couple of dollars. “We ended up inviting him over for dinner,” Gould laughed, “and he brought the bottle with him, so I did get to try it!”
The event is made possible with the help of the BBBSWB Board of Directors and a troop of almost fifty volunteers, including Joanne Angel’s parents, Maureen and John, who flew in from Newfoundland for the special occasion.
– Connect Weekly –