The theme of The Mustard Seed’s second annual Seeds of Hope Gala was “growing together.”
“We’re excited that we’re growing together and that we’re trying to end homelessness and reduce poverty here in Red Deer,” said Byron Bradley, managing director of the charity.
More than 400 people were expected to attend the event Saturday night at the Red Deer Cambridge Hotel and Conference Centre, which is up from the 320 people that attended the inaugural gala.
“Our goal tonight is to help tell stories about the growth of The Mustard Seed and the stories of the lives that have been impacted by The Mustard Seed over the last three and a half years,” Bradley said.
“The needs have grown in the City of Red Deer and so have the programs and services at The Mustard Seed.
“Our hope tonight is that we can share those stories and say thank you to the community. It really takes the whole community to care for its most vulnerable.”
There has been a growing need to assist those experiencing homelessness and poverty in the community, Bradley said. With the weather getting colder, it’s pivotal to keep helping, he added.
“It’s very important to have a place to go in the cold winter months,” said Bradley.
“With the weather turning and us getting to below zero, people experiencing poverty and homelessness are a lot more vulnerable. They need places like The Mustard Seed for emergency shelter, one-on-one counselling, or our wellness centre that’s kicking off, which is trying to increase access to health and wellness services.
“We’ve seen a large increase within our programs and services – if you compare our last summer and fall to this summer and fall, we’ve more than doubled in our shelter and more than doubled our hot meals.”
Saturday’s gala featured live entertainment, including a performance from comedian Andrew Gross, a live auction and more.
“When I came in the room this evening I was overwhelmed with emotion. It reminds you of all the hard work that went into this event, as well as the hard work that goes into running The Mustard Seed all year long.”
Bradley said he was happy to meet with members of the community at the gala.
“People are so generous to us. Kids will come in and give $30, $40, $50 from their birthday party – they ask their friends to bring a few dollars instead of bringing a birthday present.”