Sold-out crowd packs Youth Guidance Tropical Night Luau

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — For more than three decades, Youth Guidance has proven that you can have a successful fundraiser even after the height of the social season. 

A sold-out crowd of 450 people gathered Saturday night at the casually elegant Quail Valley River Club for the 34th Annual Youth Guidance Tropical Night Luau.  

Last year’s change to Quail Valley was an ideal move, decidedly enhancing the event’s relaxed, tropical theme with its lovely island décor, warm breezes off the river and an always spectacular Florida sunset. Many took advantage of the outdoor seating along the riverfront, which was further enriched by the sounds of Calypso steel drums.

Clearly one of the Vero’s most vibrantly colored events, guests arrived in tropical beach-y garb, bright Hawaiian shirts and sundresses.  Festive floral leis complimented the effect, and also denoted sponsors and mentors.

Jenny Frederick, one of the many mentors who are helping to enrich the lives of approximately 700 children in need, said she has been working with two girls, ages six and 10 since November.

“They’re adorable sisters,” said Frederick.  “I have two girls of my own but they’re college age; I’m filling a void.”

Tables offering approximately 100 donated silent auction items, ranging from services, restaurants and recreation packages, to art, jewelry and retail items, filled the club’s lobby. And later in the evening, County Commissioner Wesley Davis presided over the live auction which included sports, trips, entertainment and memorabilia. A “Call from the Heart” auction earned those who sponsored a child for summer camp additional light-up leis to catch the eye.

Convenient food stations were set up at numerous locations inside and out, and Quail Valley chefs once again worked their magic, continually replenishing an assortment of delicious island fare.   As the noise level cranked up, shoes were kicked off and people took to the dance floor, rocking all night to the music of Gypsy Lane.

“We were afraid with the move from the Polish American Club to Quail Valley and raising the prices that we were going to lose our grassroots sponsors who have been supporting us for 34 years,” said Barbara Schlitt Ford, Youth Guidance executive director.

“But by still keeping it affordable, we brought them with us and we’ve been able to draw in the barrier island crowd. Everybody really loves it.  We’re hoping to raise $60,000 to send 200 kids to camp.  At a cost of $300 apiece it adds up pretty quick.”

“We’re so excited to be here,” said new mentor Ashley Franke, who excitedly noted that she had been matched up with a 7-year-old child.

She and her friend Brittany Norair are also now volunteering at the teen mentoring nights.

“We take them on Monday nights to various activities like the movies, the Vero Beach Museum of Art and other places,” said an enthusiastic Franke.  “I love all these things and being able to open their eyes to them is really humbling.”

Funds raised from the event will go directly towards the cost of summer camps for at-risk children in Indian River County.  While the primary mission of Youth Guidance is one-on-one positive mentoring, the organization also provides more than 50 monthly activities for un-matched children, as well as college scholarships, school clothing assistance, holiday celebrations and other services. {igallery 400}

Related Articles

Comments are closed.