On April 28, we led guests through the veil of legend and reality to Discover Atlantis, that lost oasis of beauty and antiquity. What treasures and mysteries would be found under the sea?
Guests arrived at the Shaw Conference Centre and entered an ancient agora. There was lots to explore, from the Dionysus Harvest of Grapes wine pull to the Ornaments of the Gods jewelry raffle with Hillberg and a Berk to the Greek Game of Chance. There was also a photo booth with One Step Beyond Photography. A signature cocktail reminiscent of the blues of the Mediterranean, sponsored by Impark, paired perfectly with hors d’oeuvres of tartar, edamame bruschetta, and–we were in Greece after all–spanakopita! Fashion displays by Simons set a classical mood with toga-like dresses and beautiful crowns.
Then it was time for guests to plunge into Atlantis! Mermaids, octopii, and jellyfish floated amongst the pale pillars of the lost city. The many treasures of the silent auction sponsored by Canterra Suites Hotel enticed our guests. Tables were set with shimmering tablecloths in blue and silver. Centrepieces sponsored by MC College were inspired by coral and underwater flora to gorgeous effect. Each centrepiece boasted a pair of Sparkle Ball earrings by Hillberg and Berk available for blind auction, with all proceeds going to the YESS Health For 2 program to support pregnant youth.
The booming voices of Poseidon welcomed guests to the kingdom of Atlantis. Greetings were brought from the Honourable Amarjeet Sohi, MP and Minister of Infrastructure and Communities; the Honourable Thomas Dang, MLA; and Mayor Don Iveson and Honourary YESS Patron Sarah Chan. Our emcee, auctioneer, and messenger of the gods for the evening was Mark Scholz.
YESS Executive Director Deb Cautley spoke about the power of family. For the youth at YESS, sometimes family are people and positive influences they choose rather than the one they were born into. The experiences and relationships youth have at YESS can echo through the rest of their lives. Many youth return to YESS years after they’ve “graduated” from our programs, to share their new life milestones and successes with the staff who helped them years before. With the theme of family in mind, Deb welcomed former YESS youth Camille Ripley to share her story.
Camille grew up with a difficult relationship with her mom and stepdad, constantly under threat of being kicked out no matter how quiet or out-of-the-way she made herself. Her worst fear came true when she was 14 and she came home to find her room empty and her belongings packed. Her parents had decided to send her to a foster home. Camille was eventually allowed to return home again, but only after her parents found out that she was being mistreated by her foster family. Life at home was as tense and difficult as ever. For her 17th birthday, Camille asked to stay with her aunt and uncle in Edmonton so she could attend an alternative school program. Her parents agreed and bought her a bus ticket. Camille started at a new school and made new friends who introduced her to drugs and alcohol that helped numb the pain and trauma of her childhood. It became too much for her aunt and uncle to handle and they asked Camille to leave. They gave her the address for YESS.
At YESS, Camille found other kids who had stories similar to hers. She quickly bonded with staff and took great comfort in having supportive people to turn to. “That is the constant I’d been missing my whole life,” said Camille. “There were rules to follow and chores to do, but they were all to help teach me to be an independent adult.” No matter what, YESS staff were there for her. Camille left when she was 18, but YESS continued to be her rock. She eventually enrolled in the Child and Youth Care Program at MacEwan and graduated in 2002 with honours–cue applause! Camille has now been a social worker for 15 years and is the support for kids who need it most. As Camille wisely noted, “The kids who need the most love will ask for it in the most unloving ways sometimes.”
Then it was time to enter the gladiator ring of the live auction sponsored by Carlson Construction–bidding paddles at the ready! Items like rare Burgundian win from Keith Graham, a pack from Blind Enthusiasm Brewing Company, a tour from Bioware, a travel package from WestJet and the Edmonton International Airport, top-of-the-line fitness equipment from Flaman Fitness, a year-long parking pass from Impark, a BBQ for 24 people from Tom Goodchild, a dinner party packed from YESS Chef Ellen Mitchell and River City Events/Big Top Tent Rentals Ltd., and a night on the town with a tailored suit to match from Simons, Mayfield Dinner Theatre, DoubleTree by Hilton, and Prestige Limousine, a division Greater Edmonton Taxi Service Inc. The rarest item of all came from the muse herself, Giselle Denis, who painted throughout the evening and auctioned off her masterpiece.
A fashion show of the Simons spring/summer 2017 collection turned the acropolis into a runway! Models floated past in gorgeous modern ensembles and antiquity-inspired headdresses.
Guests held their breath for the evening’s finale: an under-the-sea-themed epic by Firefly Theatre & Circus. Acrobats emulated deadly sharks, jolly crabs, and shipwrecked heroes to gasps and applause from the audience.
At last it was time for the Lost City of Atlantis to disappear into the sands of time once again. But we privileged few now know its secrets, and perhaps a few walked away with a few treasures ourselves. Thank you so much to all our guests, sponsors, hosts, volunteers, and staff who made the 2017 YESS Gala for Youth the most successful gala yet, raising $220,000. Your support of our programs and resources means our youth can discover their potential and find the support they need to bring their dreams to life.
Relive the splendour of Atlantis with One Step Beyond Photography.
Thanks to all of our sponsors this year, including:
Presenting Sponsor: Nordic Mechanical Services
Dinner Sponsor: Collin Bruce Mortgage Team
Cocktail Sponsor: Impark
Table Wine Sponsor: Sherlock Holmes Hospitality Group
Centrepiece Sponsor: MC College
Raffle Sponsor: Hillberg & Berk
Sorbet Sponsor: Dentons
Silent Auction Sponsor: Canterra Suites Hotel
Live Auction Sponsor: Carlson Construction
Welcome Sponsor: The Violet Chocolate Company
Agora & Overall Sponsor: Simons
Agora & Overall Sponsor: The Organic Box
Media & Overall Sponsor: SONiC 102.9
Photography & Overall Sponsor: One Step Beyond (Photography & Video)
Decor & Overall Sponsor: River City Events/Big Top Tent Rentals
Audio Visual & Overall Sponsor: Inland Audio Visual Limited
Signage & Overall Sponsor: Cowan Graphics Inc.
Advertising & Overall Sponsor: Pattison Outdoor Advertising
Venue: Shaw Conference Centre