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Wellroot Family Services’ This is Home Gala: A Heartfelt Reunion Fuels Fundraising for Vital Programs

By April 1, 2024July 19th, 2024No Comments

Wellroot Family Services, formerly the United Methodist Children’s Home, hosted its annual fundraising gala at Zoo Atlanta with support from the Liz Blake Giving Fund and co-chairs Cannon Carr and Eddy Benoit Jr. Thanks to the generous support of attendees, This is Home raised over $350,000 to provide loving homes for Georgia’s children. 

The evening began with a lively cocktail reception overlooking a majestic elephant exhibit on the Tembo Trek. Guests browsed silent auction items benefiting Wellroot’s programs while mingling and enjoying light refreshments. Anticipation grew before the doors opened to the Carlos ballroom in Savana Hall, transformed by Bold Events & Design. The ambiance evoked the warmth of home with vintage-inspired floral arrangements, wooden accents, and soft candlelight.  

After a spirited opening performance by the talented dueling pianists Mark Kovaly and Ty Reynolds, Wellroot’s Board president, Brad MacAfee, welcomed guests, followed by event co-chairs Cannon and Eddie, who thanked the many sponsors that helped make the gala possible. Reverend Byron Thomas’s moving prayer set the tone for the evening’s proceedings in addition to two powerful mission videos that highlighted Wellroot’s impact, and inspiring commitment to the organization’s noble cause.  

After a delicious dinner service offered by Proof of the Pudding catering, the gala continued with scholarship awards to current and former residents of Wellroot’s Transitional Living Program. Wellroot Family Services’ president and CEO, Allison Ashe, and Wellroot board member Trish Paterson presented the 2024 scholarships to recipients, recognizing each student for their academic performance and demonstrated leadership in the community.   

Former UMCH resident and youth advocate Eshontee Rowe shared a poignant story about her childhood, highlighting critical moments during her formative years and how the support of Wellroot’s beloved staff members proved to be pivotal in shaping her journey. The time she spent aging out of foster care, receiving vital support from Wellroot, inspired her work today as a youth advocate. Eshontee now leads a network of independent, youth-led foster groups across the U.S. and Canada. Her personal testimonial was beautifully conveyed through a vocal performance of “You Raise Me Up,” eliciting a standing ovation from gala attendees. 

Allison Ashe provided an organizational update, highlighting ongoing efforts to ensure every child experiences a loving home. She emphasized the importance of prioritizing family preservation, and housing assistance as the solutions to the challenges many families face before children enter the foster care system. Attendees embraced the opportunity to support this vision and make a difference, as the Fund-A-Need segment provided a chance to invest in the programs and services at Wellroot Family Services, raising $69,000. 

Excitement peaked with a live auction of an in-home piano concert by Mark Kovaly, followed by an electrifying dueling pianos performance. Closing remarks from Brad MacAfee marked the end of the formal program, though the spirit of generosity continued as guests checked out. 

The annual This is Home gala was an inspirational evening for attendees, uplifting the collective impact of their support for Wellroot’s vital mission. 

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