Nine years ago, John Russell, a longtime volunteer with the homeless in New London, decided that a dance might be a good fundraiser for New London's Homeless Hospitality Center and Covenant House. And he was right. The first year, the Homeless to Hopeful benefit dance raised about $8,000. So organizers decided to do it again, and each year the event grew bigger and better.
"Last year, we raised around $50,000," said event coordinator Victoria Dryden, an interior designer from New London who works with Covenant Shelter. "It really does become the largest single donation outside of government support for the two shelters. It’s really become a phenomenal thing."
This year will be the 9th Annual Homeless to Hopeful Benefit Dance, and it's happening on Saturday, September 7, from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., at Ocean Beach Park Pavilion in New London. This year's event promises to be better than ever, with music by Rock 'n Soul Review, light hors d'oeuvres, a cash bar, and great raffle prizes.
A small but determined group of volunteers start planning the event in February. For the past few years, that group has included Dryden; Russell; Robyn Wolman, of Waterford; Connie Simos, who works at People’s Bank; Karen Neilan, who works at Liberty Bank; Boni MacDonald, who works with Raveis Realty and who handles the raffles; and Pat and Fred Serluca, who are in charge of the decorations.
"The event looks the way it does because of them," said Dryden. "It's really such a fun event—500 of your closest friends dancing—and there are great raffles as well."
Tickets are $20 general admission, $10 for seniors, students, and military members. For tickets, information, or to find out about sponsorship opportunities, call 860-443-0537, ext. 101 or firstname.lastname@example.org