About 600 movers and shakers turned out for the Red Carpet Gala benefiting the Center for Family Resources, a nonprofit group promoting independence for families in need.
Attendees donned sparkling gowns and tuxedos and were greeted by mock fans before hearing music from a 17-piece orchestra and viewing a telecast of the 86th annual Academy Awards.
At $3,000 per table, the event is the largest fundraiser for the Center for Family Resources each year.
The organization receives money from private and corporate donors, the United Way and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, but the Oscar gala is what helps sustain the group’s food pantry, GED diploma classes and housing program, said Jeri Barr, CEO of the center.
More than 10,000 people were impacted by the center’s programs last year and 200 families each year are given long-term housing to help them get back on their feet.
“We work with low-income and homeless families to help them attain self-sufficiency,” Barr said. “We help to stabilize them and empower them to become self-sufficient.”
She hoped to see Sunday’s event match the $360,000 raised last year.
“Last year was a banner year,” Barr said. “That was the most we’ve ever raised.”
Apart from the $3,000 price tag for a table, a silent and live auction raised money for the organization alongside a program called “Make a House a Home” that allowed donors to furnish a room in one of the center’s housing units. That program alone raised $20,000 during last year’s gala.
“It’s a donation that helps do the work that we do, but it gives us a chance to tell our story,” Barr said.
Ben Mathis, co-chair of the event, said the center helps “move the needle on people who are in a transitional stage” and called it a worthwhile cause.
“The money is used frugally and wisely. They can feel good about what their donations are for,” said Mathis, chairman of the Cobb Chamber of Commerce.
The event’s influential guest list, which included elected officials and business leaders, helps keep the center visible in Cobb, said Shan Cooper, co-chair.
“You talk about Hollywood and the red carpet. This is the who’s who of this region,” said Cooper, vice president of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics and general manager of the company’s Marietta location.
But the glitz and glamour of the evening is a different story than those the center’s clients have to tell.
“This is such a premier event, and it’s quite the opposite of the people who use our services,” said Terri Bunten Guthrie, chairwoman of the center’s governing board. “There’s a real dichotomy here.”
The mission of the center rings especially true to Guthrie, who said she grew up alongside her five siblings in a federally subsidized apartment and spent her summers at an orphanage because her working mother could not afford day care.
It wasn’t until Guthrie grew older that she realized her family’s situation.
“I was a kid. I played. I didn’t care about it,” said Guthrie, chief lending officer for First Landmark Bank.
She said she thinks about what her mother went through when trying to provide for her family when thinking of the services the center provides.
“We never forget the reason we are here,” Guthrie said.