Saturday evening’s Gala in Gold shimmered with a golden décor that fittingly spotlighted the generosity of Hibiscus Children’s Center supporters who themselves are renowned for their hearts of gold.
The black-tie affair at The Moorings Yacht & Country Club was a study in elegance, as ladies in glimmering gowns and men in tuxedos mingled during the cocktail hour, perusing long tables filled with donated silent-auction items and descriptions of items to be bid on later during the live auction. Jacob Craig entertained at a piano in the center of the lounge as gilded girls filled flutes from a champagne fountain.
Co-chairs Petra King and Rosemary Smith and their hard-working committee carried the sophisticated theme into the dining room as well, where dazzling high-pillared centerpieces, designed by Pink Pelican Florist, featured gorgeous bouquets of white hydrangea, tulips and roses, hung with tea-candles in glass ornaments.
Guests were entertained during a delicious gourmet dinner with a band featuring vocalist Tori Rossi and even a surprise dance routine by Hibiscus Guild volunteers led by Shari and Joe Tessier of Swingsation’s 14th Avenue Dance Studio.
“I was lucky enough to grow up in Vero and I had supporting parents, supporting siblings and a great upbringing,” said event MC Beckett Horner, an attorney with Robin Lloyd & Associates and a Hibiscus board member. “But not all the children in the community are lucky enough to have that. Hibiscus Children’s Center is doing their best to see that everybody gets that opportunity.”
Hibiscus CEO Paul Sexton spoke briefly about the organization, which over its more than 30 years has provided more than 325,000 nights of safe care for the abused, neglected and abandoned children in our community. He cited some alarming statistics, including that 50,000 children are abused each year in Florida and that every month 3,000 children are removed from their homes.
“It’s a serious, serious challenge,” said Sexton. He related that the teens housed at Hibiscus Village in Vero Beach face an uphill battle, with many becoming incarcerated or unemployed after they’re out of the system at age 18. “We’ve got to do better than that.”
He praised the generosity of the supporters of Hibiscus, noting that federal and state funding covers just 70 percent of costs. Fundraising efforts are critical to meet the additional $2 million needed for its programs and services, which this year cared for almost 2,000 children.
“The challenge is very, very daunting; it’s very, very real,” said Sexton. “But thanks to you, we’re making a difference.”