Two groups that support those facing or threatened with homelessness in Arlington will share nearly $100,000, the proceeds from Keller Williams Realty’s ninth annual “Bridging the Gap” gala.
About 300 business and community leaders packed the Clarendon Ballroom Nov. 3 to help raise funds for the Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network (A-SPAN) and Bridges to Independence.
The two agencies “provide critical services to the most vulnerable in the county,” said Natalie Roy, who chaired the event with Cindy May.
A-SPAN and Bridges to Independence are “taking care of all those who need our help,” said U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-8th), who was honored with the annual “Bridging the Gap Champion Award” by Shane McCullar, CEO of Keller Williams Metro Center.
The uptempo celebration included a number of live auctions; at one point, a friendly but spirited bidding war broke out during an auction of a dinner for eight by celebrity chef David Guas.
Helping to pump up the bidding, Guas (of Bayou Bakery) promised “a wonderful event of surprises” to be held at the home of local real-estate professional Kathy Fong.
“We can do anything,” he said of the prospective menu. “We’re going to rock it out.”
When two bidders battled up to $1,850, then one went to $1,875, Fong convinced Guas to provide two nights, one for each group, effectively doubling the take from the auction item.
The event drew a who’s who of Arlington civic leadership, with one notable group excepted: Arlington School Board members that night were meeting to hear proposals for the hot-button issue of high-school-boundary adjustments.
(The uncertainty of those boundary changes, along with the fluidity of the presidential race, were reasons that some prospective home-buyers have been sitting on the fence this fall, Roy and May said. But in general, “the market is good,” both said.)
Funds raised at the Keller Williams event rotate among social-safety-net groups in Arlington that provide “incredibly transformative results,” said County Board member Christian Dorsey.
A-SPAN and Bridges to Independence “give people the skills that they need to rebound,” Dorsey said.
He praised the real-estate community for turning out to raise funds. “There are a lot of people who talk the talk, but not a lot who walk the walk,” Dorsey said.
Dorsey and other Arlington local officials were joined by members of the state legislature.
Del. Rip Sullivan (D-48th) encouraged attendees to “contribute something more valuable than your dollars.”
“These organizations need your volunteer time,” he said.
Del. Alfonso Lopez (D-49th) urged attendees to get active on the state level. “We need you in Richmond . . . being an advocate for the social safety net, fighting for the issues we all care about,” he said.
Revelers also enjoyed the music of the Arlington-based band LyonHeart and bid on auction items ranging from a stay at an Outer Banks beach house to a high-end commuter bike.
“Drink up and spend lots of money,” County Board Chairman Libby Garvey told the assemblage.