Chicago police and a Homeland Security officer kept an eye on the entrance of the Aon Center where the Chicago Family Health Center was holding its gala.
Chicago Family Health Center gambled when it hosted its Healing Hands gala Friday night. Downtown was emptying out in anticipation of the NATO summit. And the party’s location -- at the Mid-America Club on the Aon Center’s 80th floor – put it near both the hotels that were hosting NATO delegations and the sites of possible protests.
The gamble paid off. Individual ticket sales were the same as last year. Nearly 80 seats at the gala were empty, due to individuals who didn't attend or companies that bought tables but didn't send people to sit at them. Still, the gala netted $120,000, 15 percent more than last year’s.
The gala was scheduled before Chicago was announced as the location for both the NATO and G8 summits, said Warren Brodine, the nonprofit’s president. (The G8 meeting was later moved to Camp David in Maryland.) When they heard the news, he and the board decided to do nothing.
“We studied it, we talked to people at the city and Aon Center, and we didn’t think there’d be any problem with it,” says Mr. Brodine.
Besides, he said, changing the location would be tough. The organization, which offers health services to low-income families, gets a good rate from the Mid-America Club, and with a low ticket price of $250, a hotel would cost too much.
Plus, “if there’s anything happening in Millennium Park, we’ll get a bird’s eye view,” Mr. Brodine said.
Still, NATO hovered over the party. During cocktail hour in the Mid-America Club’s lounge, guests snacked on hors d’oeuvres (sliders, salmon atop rye bread, phyllo-wrapped asparagus) and clustered near windows to gape at a nearly-empty Millennium Park and Columbus Drive. News helicopters buzzed over the lake, as did the occasional jet-black government helicopter.
Looking around the room, one sponsor expressed concern. “The media scared people away,” said Craig Manske, managing principal at Chicago-based Development Solutions Inc., the evening’s dinner sponsor.
Security preparations and fears of any hassle they’d create took a small bite out of attendance. As a result, the at-event raffle brought in $1,025, half of last year’s amount. A silent auction brought in $2,287, less than half of last year’s $4,680.
Making up the difference was a four-item live auction that brought in $3,350, almost three times the amount of last year’s single-item auction, plus live ask and donations at large that remained steady, at about $19,000. Sponsorship revenue, about $104,000, was up 10 percent over last year.
The evening affirmed Mr. Brodine’s faith in the organization’s donors and his decision. “I’m glad we didn’t move the date and increase our competition,” he said, referring to the dearth of galas this past weekend. “We believe our donors are out there to support us, and not just to have a nice evening out and a good meal,” he said.
|What's up this week|
|Monday, May 21: El Valor, Don Quixote Dinner, Chicago Hilton & Towers, (312) 492-5936.|
|Wednesday, May 23: Chicago Youth Centers, Annual Believe in Kids Dinner, Four Seasons Chicago, (312) 913-1700, ext. 450.|
|Wednesday, May 23: Illinois Humanities Council, Public Humanities Award Benefit Luncheon honoring Bette Cerf Hill and Bruce Sagan, Union League Club of Chicago, (312) 422-5580.|
|Thursday, May 24: Big Shoulders Fund, 25th Anniversary Dinner, Chicago Hilton & Towers, (312) 553-2000.|
|Thursday, May 24: Chicago Lighthouse for People Who are Blind and Visually Impaired, Seeing What’s Possible Annual Dinner, Four Seasons Hotel Chicago ,(312) 997-3679.|
| Submit your events at: www.ChicagoBusiness.com/societyevents|