by Nathan Boddy
After a two-year hiatus, the renowned Emma’s House Gala will spring back to life on Saturday, September 24th from at 6 p.m. at the Events Center at the fairgrounds in Hamilton. The event is the primary fundraising tool for Emma’s House, a nationally accredited CAC (children’s advocacy center) whose mission is to provide essential services to children following incidents and allegations of abuse. The non-profit has been functioning within Hamilton since its inception in 2006, and has assisted literally hundreds of regional children during their very worst moments.
“We try to make it as comfortable as possible,” says Emma’s House Board of Directors President, Alexis Holland, as she describes not only the building, but the wide variety of services that Emma’s House provides. Holland, who had served on the Board for several years before becoming president, explains that the purpose of the CAC is to streamline the incredibly difficult process of assisting a child who may have experienced abuse. Without the services that a CAC like Emma’s House can offer, a child may have to relive his or her abuse dozens of times while enduring questioning from multiple sources and in a variety of frightening settings. At Emma’s House, however, the child need only interact with one trained forensic interviewer while a Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) stands by to gather the pertinent information. With this streamlined and compassionate approach, the child’s access to needed services and closure becomes far more attainable.
The Gala, which was put on hold during the two worst years of the Covid outbreak, will pick up where it left off in 2019 when the Board decided that the next theme would be ‘The Roaring 20’s’. While the second decade of the century is already underway, the Gala promises to be a highly entertaining look back at Prohibition, flappers and zoot suits.
“We try to make it as exciting as possible,” says Holland. “We’re providing an evening of entertainment!” Emma’s House is working with event planner Autumn Kozimer to make the Gala come to life. Furthermore, they will have entertainment by Max and Natalie Naidl who have shared their skills with Emma’s House on multiple occasions. Holland describes Max as, “a hometown star,” adding, “This is the last year that we have him, and we’re super stoked that he’s going to be a part of the show.”
In keeping with the Roaring 20’s theme, the event will also include a raffle, the grand prize for which will be an award of a two-night stay at the Miner’s Hotel and 51 Below Speakeasy in Butte, Montana. The experience will include meals and an historic tour of the underground Butte which made the city one of the most important focal points of the American West in the early years of the 1900s. The Gala will also include a ‘beer and wine pull,’ tickets for which will sell at $20 each and promises prizes of equal or greater value. For purchasing drinks at the event, a 1920’s Prohibition bar will be on site.
Holland says that they encourage people to dress the part for the event, i.e. to wear zoot suits, flapper dresses, newsboy hats, etc. “We want people to step into that theme and really have a good time as well,” she says.
Emma’s House functions on donations of both time and effort, says Holland. Aside from the fundraiser, people are always encouraged to lend a hand, even if it’s as simple as mowing the lawn during the summer months. The Gala itself is staffed by volunteers, including many high school students from both Corvallis and Hamilton High. “We serve children and we want to highlight and make them part of this day too. All these students dress nice and get to be servers and bussers and general helpers,” says Holland.
Helping out for Emma’s House has been shown to be a wide ranging community effort. In 2021, Ryan Tellock ran 100 miles to raise funds for the CAC, and during the worst of the pandemic in 2020, Emma’s House produced an on-line fundraising video with the assistance of dozens of community leaders, actors and personalities. Still, the in-person experience of the Emma’s House Gala should prove to be a memorable one for those who can attend this mainstay of Bitterroot participation and entertainment. Tickets and information can be found at https://www.emmashousecac.org/events.