Community Action Agency celebrates most successful fundraiser yet

The W-JCC Community Action Agency saw its most successful fundraising effort ever with the 15th annual Community of Stars Dine and Dance June 1. The Ford’s Colony event raised more than $13,000 for the nonprofit organization.

“It was really wonderful,” said Liz Callan, the agency’s director of fund development. “It was just a lot of super positive energy.”

For the first time, the Community of Stars event featured a live auction, helping spur donations. In addition to the auction’s vacations and material goods, the paddle-raise portion included the opportunity for guests to cover the costs for agency services. The money will provide opportunities like a year of breakfast for a child in the Head Start program and a college visit for a student in the Project Discovery program.

“We did not know how this was going to go,” Callan said. “People loved it.”

One woman, Cynthia Lassiter, won both of the evening’s biggest prizes: more than $1,000 from the cash raffle and a Wyndham Resort tropical vacation for two to share with her husband, Curtis.

“We don’t win a lot of things,” she said. “It was a shock and a blessing.”

The agency is gearing up for a partnership with Baker’s Crust. As part of its “Buy A Stake in the Community” program, the restaurant will serve $7 steak dinners each Monday night in July and give $1 from each meal to the community action agency.

The agency celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2018, and the staff is in the process of conceptualizing an event to celebrate the milestone in October. Moving forward, Callan feels confident about the organization’s future.

“I feel like we’re in a pretty good position moving into that,” she said. “I think our name is getting out there a little bit more these days.”

Birkenmeyer can be reached by email at, by phone at 757-790-3029 or on Twitter @sethbirkenmeyer.

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