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Angels Within Us announce big change at milestone gala

Sunday, 08 December 2019. Posted in Shootin' the Breeze

Angels Within Us announce big change at milestone gala

The 10th annual Angels Within Us gala was one for the books. Angels board members shine as they celebrate 10 years of community-building and fun. From left are Kevin Parkin, Vanessa Haagen, Nellie Stephens, Suzanne Kirby, Mona Low, Colleen Parkin, Michelle Duncan, Sherry Mackenzie and Dan Crawford.   Photos by Jess Harrington

Angels Within Us announce big change at milestone gala

By Jess Harrington

Murmurs of surprise shot through the room at the Angels Within Us 10th anniversary gala when Sherry Mackenzie, president of the fundraiser organizing board, shared that this year’s event would be the last. At least for a little while. 

“It’s difficult, but we want to announce that we are taking a break from this gala,” she told the guests who packed Pincher Creek Community Hall on Nov. 29.

“We love this event, and 10 years is an amazing feat. But if you’ve planned a wedding or big events, you know it’s a lot of work.”

Sherry says the decision to step back was unanimous and natural. 

At a meeting the night before the gala, the board members fell into an honest talk about their feelings moving forward. The group realized that after 10 years, many of them had new priorities emerging in their lives, and the demands of organizing a yearly dinner and dance were becoming more difficult to meet.

“If you think about it, 10 years is a big shift,” Sherry explains. “I had a child the year we started and my kids still need me. Two other board members have kids that just moved out, and two more have become grandparents in the years they’ve been on the board.”

“Life just changes,” she says. “We were all in agreement that this is what needed to happen, and there was something about 10 years that just felt right.”

The members resolved to announce their decision, then celebrate their accomplishments together at the gala.

They were able to do this well, as the evening was filled with special moments.

Right off the hop, the board enjoyed surprising their guests with prizes hidden under their seats, like drink tickets and Lethbridge Hurricanes passes.

Everyone enjoyed the steak supper, prepared as always by the Pincher Creek Hutterite Colony.

The live auction was energetic and fun as guests vied for interesting items like a hand-wrought lamp post, holiday stays in Edmonton and Radium, and two 10-year anniversary Angels Within Us cakes.

Some bidders re-donated their prizes after winning, allowing the Angels to keep fundraising with the same item. This included Trevor Panczak, the musical entertainer for the night, who purchased a Lethbridge Hurricanes VIP party deck experience and immediately put it back on the auction block.

Trevor also donated and helped auction off a signed guitar before putting on a show that kept the party rocking until the early morning.

The most moving part of the evening came just before the auction, when Sherry thanked the event’s longtime supporters.

She grew emotional as she started to list families, businesses and volunteers who have been part of the gala from the start.

These include the SALE auction team; Esther and her kitchen team at Pincher Colony; the Oldtimers Hockey Club for running the bar all 10 years; the numerous 4-H kids and grad students who have helped serve and set up different galas; Tammy and Dean Kennedy, who have decorated the hall each year; past board members; and over two dozen families and businesses who have been consistent donors.

Sherry also acknowledged recipients of the Angels’ help who have turned around to support the group, telling them, “We appreciate the circle that you support as the community has supported you.”

Sherry finished her list by tearfully thanking her husband and children for their support, and calling the current board, who “might as well be family,” to stand with her at the front. 

As they did this, the crowd broke out into a long standing ovation.

Sherry wants to make it clear that while the Angels are taking a break from their signature event, the organization is still viable and will continue to help families in Pincher Creek.

Over the next few years, they will continue to distribute money that has been collected, including over $50,000 raised at this year’s event — and later, they may return to actively fundraising.

“Maybe in two, three years when we run out of money, life will be different again and we could do a fundraiser like [the gala] again, or maybe something else,” says Sherry.

But for now, she told guests at the gala, “We want to make sure you understand that we are still here. We have money, we’re hoping to still gather money to keep us going … and there is still a need. We aren’t walking away from each other or the funds we have gathered.” 

The Angels Within Us provide financial assistance to almost anyone in the community who needs it.

The only conditions are that applicants must live in the Pincher Creek or the surrounding municipal district, and the Angels do not simply give out cash, but instead look for specific projects they can support. These can range in scope from helping a person buy groceries or get caught up on bills to purchasing specialized medical equipment or vehicles.

If you know someone who could use a hand up of any kind, or could use one yourself, just let the Angels know. There is no formal application process. You can write to the Angels at PO Box 911, Pincher Creek, AB, T0K 1W0, or email angelswithinuspinchercreek@gmail.ca. 

And follow them on Facebook at Angels Within Us - Pincher Creek Foundation for updates moving forward.

20191129 Angels Within Us 13

Kelsey Livingston lights up with laughter after an auctioneer makes an off-colour joke.

20191123 Angels Erica Mackenzie

Erica Mackenzie models a unique auction item, a custom 10-year Angels cake.

20191123 Angels Trevor Panczyk

Lethbridge singer Trevor Panczak displays his contribution to the live auction, a signed guitar and a copy of his album Blame It on the Whiskey on vinyl.

20191129 Angels Within Us 20 Maggie Olson

Maggie Olsen reads stories about the Angels’ good work on a display full of recipients’ stories.