By Greg Kendall
The Family YMCA’s Red & Black Ball is a major highlight of the Los Alamos social scene. But, there is more to the Ball than dinner and dancing. The annual gala serves a very important and serious purpose: helping kids.
In 1955, The Family YMCA of Los Alamos was created by an act of Congress. The first Red & Black Ball was held in 2000 to help raise money for the gymnasium. Over the past 12 years, the Ball has raised a whopping $330,000 for YMCA programs. This year was exceptional; the event raised approximately $52,000. The Red & Black is the traditional kickoff to the Annual Strong Kids Campaign. This year’s Campaign Manager is Emily McGay. The goal for the Annual Strong Kids Campaign is to raise $125,000. The campaign is off to a great start! Last year, the Y helped 125 families by awarding over $75,000 in financial aid for youth programs, membership and child care scholarships.
Los Alamos Family YMCA Executive Director Linda Daly said that the Y must raise $125,000 annually to help meet the need of those individuals unable to pay.
“No one is ever turned away because of the inability to pay,” she said. “We at the Y feel the single greatest thing we can do is to connect with youth in a positive, meaningful way, whether it’s as a novice coach in basketball, a teen leader at our teen centers, or as a counselor in our camps. And so we take a leadership role in providing teen programs and youth programs. We believe it is our role to provide opportunities for everyone to become healthier.
“We have also partnered with State Farm and the New Mexico Department of Health to provide free pre-diabetes education and support workshops and free workshops in chronic disease management. We at the Y believe strongly that we are stewards of our environment, and that it is our role to develop future stewards. So, we vigorously work to fund our Y Earth Services known as YES Corp and our Youth Conservation Corp (YCC) programs. We also fund an environmental educator to lead the environment clubs at both the Middle School and High School.”
The Y operates teen centers in both Española and Los Alamos. The YCC and YES Corp assist Craig Martin, Los Alamos County Open Space Specialist, with trail building and trail maintenance throughout the County.
The money raised at the 2012 Red & Black Ball comes from a combination of Sponsors, a Chairman’s Round Table and both a silent and live auction.
This year, the ball returned to the Hilltop House. This was the site of the very first Red & Black in 2000, when the hotel was owned by Roger Waterman. Ron and Kim Selvage, current owners, were this year’s exceptional gala hosts.
Their team, including Denise Smith (Hotel General Manager) and Chef Diego Torres went out of their way to make the evening special. The delicious dinner of beef tenderloin, lobster and asparagus was even topped off with a guitar shaped potato slice.
Over the last 12 years, many organizations have contributed to the Ball each and every year: Blue Cross Blue Shield, Espanola Transit Mix, Hilltop House Hotel, Neptune Company, LA Medical Center, LANB and TRK.
Los Alamos National Bank’s Operations Officer, Karen Easton, discussed LANB’s longtime support of the Y. “The bank has always supported education – that’s a fundamental aspect of the bank,” Easton said. “Investing in the education of our children is vitally important and the YMCA is an amazing community member that does so much to benefit youth and families.”
This year’s major sponsors include the aforementioned organizations and:
Energy Solutions, Los Alamos Public Safety Association, Modrall Spearling, Navarro Engineering and Research, RBC Capital Markets, Ruby K’s Bagel Café, Smith’s Food and Drug and Lou Santoro.
“This annual event is an opportunity for the youth at the Espanola YMCA Teen Center, which is operated by The Family YMCA, to show case the works of art they create during the classes that we host,” said Teen Center Director Ben Sandoval. “It builds character and motivates them to learn new art, new art forms and also encourages them to be regular attendees of the program because they know the Y provides them an opportunity to excel and grow as individuals.”
Three wooden wishing wells created by the teens were auctioned at Saturday night’s Red and Black Ball. The teens also created a wooden chest for the auction and 13-year-old Jennifer Perez created and donated a large acrylic painting.
Attending the ball for the first time were Los Alamos Medical Center’s newly appointed CEO, Feliciano Giron and his wife Joanna. “The Y plays such a key role in our community and its youth and the hospital have always been big supporters,” Giron said, adding that he, his wife and their four children are all members of the local YMCA.
Although the Red & Black Ball provides the Y with over 40% of the total goal for the annual “Strong Kids Campaign,” the remaining $73,000 must be raised from individuals and organizations in the community. To donate online, go to www.laymca.org
For more pictures of last Saturday’s festivities, click the following link: http://tinyurl.com/6q5ykld
Editor’s Note: Carol A. Clark contributed to this story.