The Westfield Youth Assistance Program’s goal of raising $ 100,000 at the Westfield Mayor’s Yellow Tie Gala seemed unlikely due to the need to go virtual amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“2020 has been a year like never before,” said WYAP Board Chair Janelle Campbell. “We started the year by planning a revamped Yellow Tie Gala to benefit the Westfield Youth Support Program. When the pandemic hit, our plans came to an abrupt halt once we realized that getting together in large groups wouldn’t be safe.
“We developed a virtual solution and launched a 10 hour fundraiser that was hosted at Cambria hotels.”
WYAP, which was formed in 2009 to serve as an early intervention advocate for children ages 3 to 17 who face difficult life situations, has partnered with local restaurants and ran Facebook feeds. live every 30 minutes, either from its home base in Cambria, or from one of the partner restaurateurs.
“This allowed the community to continue to be involved in a socially remote environment, and we achieved our goal of raising over $ 100,000 in those 10 hours,” said Campbell. “The event was a resounding success and we learned a lot in the process about fundraising virtually.”
The gala raised $ 105,590 when donations ceased on December 31, 2020. Final results were available in January.
Westfield Chamber of Commerce director Steve Latour, who is on the WYAP board of directors, said for the first time that requests for donations had been sent to 15,000 residents, so these donations continued to arrive.
“The previous year (WYAP) only raised $ 64,000, so it was great to see the community’s response in these difficult times,” said Latour, who became president of WYAP in June.
The 2021 Yellow Tie Gala will be an in-person and virtual event on October 8 at the Bridgewater Club.