By SHAE DALRYMPLE
WEIRTON - Family Connections hosted more than 200 guests at their seventh-annual There's No Place Like Home Dinner and Dance Saturday at the Serbian-American Cultural Center to benefit the Brooke Place group home for girls run by the agency.
DINNER?AND?DANCE — Jean Bartholow, from left, Joyce Young and Debbie Coletti-Pearce posed with Dorothy at the seventh-annual There’s No Place Like Home Dinner and Dance to benefit Family Connections - Brooke Place. Bartholow, Young and Coletti-Pearce are members of the fund development auxiliary, and Bartholow is chair of the fund development committee.
"It's the biggest one we've ever had," noted Jean Bartholow of the fund development committee. "And it's been growing steadily every year."
The event, which raised more than $9,000 last year, featured dinner, refreshments, a live auction, drawings and a cash bar, and disc jockey Mr. Moe and the Music Machine provided the tunes.
"The Wizard of Oz" was again the theme for the annual event. The staff of Brooke Place compare circumstances that bring girls to the group home to a tornado. They come to the home for various reasons, but the staff tries to guide them all through their own "journey to realize their potential as productive, caring members of their families and communities." The characters from the classic story represent different lessons that the girls are encouraged to learn along the way. The scarecrow stands for better decision-making skills. The tin man represents compassion or heart, and the lion represents the strength needed to overcome adverse circumstances.
"We try to help the girls make the necessary changes so that they can return home again. When they complete the program they're awarded ruby slippers," explained Joanne Dobrzanski of the fund development committee. "This is a very special event to showcase what we're doing, and we're grateful to everyone in the community who donated items for auction."
The dinner and dance were dedicated to Cathy Sobel, a member of the Brooke Place fund development committee who has been involved since the beginning.
Though it receives federal and state funding, the fundraiser and donations from area churches, groups and individuals help to provide for the girls' basic and personal needs. The home can house up to 12 girls at once from across the state, and typically about 25 to 30 girls pass through each year.
Family Connections - Brooke Place will host their first car show benefit July 26 at Mercy Baptist Church on Pennsylvania Avenue.
(Dalrymple can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)