Sweetheart Ball was a success for FAITH

Ladies dressed in red and tuxedoed gentlemen danced the night away Saturday in FAITH’s 18th annual Sweetheart Ball at the Rabun County Civic Center.

Outgoing FAITH Executive Director Caroline Wallis said the annual gala raised about $50,000 for the charity, an amount unseen since before The Great Recession nine years ago.

“I think it went fabulously,” Wallis said. “I think it was one of our better years as far as community involvement. We oversold the number of tickets available.

“I think it’s just a certain indication that the community supports FAITH and the mission. (The community)  believes in what we do …  (and that) we will handle their money wisely and efficiently.”

FAITH, which stands for Fight Abuse In The Home, is a nonprofit aimed at helping victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Aside from its function of providing a shelter for battered women and children, the organization also funds the Power House for Kids in Toccoa, which provides services for children who are alleged victims of abuse.

FAITH board member and Clayton Police Department Investigator Ryan Hamilton said he could not speak highly enough of the the Power House and the services it provides to victims and law enforcement. The Power House also conducts forensic interviews for victims of sexual assault.

“It makes it so much easier for law enforcement to have that resource 45 minutes away,” Hamilton said.

The funds raised from the gala will go toward the general operating fund, Wallis said.

“This particular money will go toward general operating expenses of the shelter and the Power House for Kids, it keeps the lights on 24/7/365,” Wallis said. “It keeps a lot of kids in counseling without having to make any cuts”

“It’s such an incredible organization, not just for Rabun County but for our whole state,” said Debbie Russell, president of FAITH’s board of directors. “It shows that we’re a good and giving community, and going above and beyond to help victims of domestic violence.”

Wallis credited the board for its hard work and dedication to the event and the cause.

Russell said she was proud of the board’s work to ensure the event went smoothly.

“I’m not sure if it was very different from previous years,” Russell said. “We had a larger crowd this year, which was great. I think that might be a sign of the economy turning around maybe.

“I think we had a lot of new interest, people who maybe have just come to learn about FAITH along with our old friends. We were just overwhelmed.”

Event Chairwoman Amy Giles said she was pleased with the event.

“The feedback that I heard was that it was one of the best ones they’ve attended,” Giles said. “We had great food, fun and dancing.”

Though it was a joyous time for those involved, it was a bittersweet moment for Wallis who was recognized by past and present board members for her work with the charity over the past two decades. 

Wallis said she felt she was leaving the organization in the best financial shape that it could be in and considered this year’s Sweetheart Ball her personal favorite.

“It’s amazing to think of how many people helped me make this possible and just supported me along the way,” Wallis said. “It’s pretty powerful.”

The Clayton Tribune

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