Celebrity Serve brings community together
Team up your favorite personalities and eateries with area nonprofit organizations and community support, and you're sure to end up with a winning combination.
That's the way it's been since Celebrity Serve began as a local fundraiser six years ago.
This year's event, scheduled for Tuesday, April 12, in Watauga County, promises to be a continuation of the same.
Approximately $150,000 has been raised through the one-day annual event for Hospice of Watauga County, Make A Wish Foundation, High Country Soccer Association, Hospitality House and Watauga Education Foundation.
This year's fundraiser will benefit OASIS (Opposing Abuse with Services, Information and Shelter), a Boone-based agency dedicated to ending domestic violence and sexual assault in Watauga County and surrounding areas.
While the term "celebrity" might be used loosely, it works, said Mary Hall, spokeswoman for the organizing committee.
"Several of us got together and started this event for Hospice after its telethon was discontinued. It became an immediate success," she said. "We're extremely delighted that we've been able to help so many people through the organizations that have benefitted from the proceeds."
Requests from area nonprofit agencies filter in during the year, sometimes even before the current fundraiser is over.
"It's never easy for us to decide who gets the money," said Jack Pepper, chairman of the Celebrity Serve committee, "because there are always several well-deserving groups up for consideration that could certainly make good use of the money. We chose OASIS as recipient of this year's proceeds, knowing that many families will benefit from the money we raise."
Founded in 1978, OASIS Inc. provides comprehensive emergency services, transitional support and a safe environment for survivors of abuse as they explore options for a violence-free life. The agency also provides education and skill development to encourage families in the community to create and maintain healthy peer and intimate partner relationships that are based on respect and equality. And it helps to create a community that supports survivors through advocacy and education.
Pepper, wife Lisa Pepper and fellow community advocates Tim Baxter, Gwen Dhing, Hall and Sherrie Norris, established Celebrity Serve as a way to help stretch community services just a little farther than budgets allow.
OASIS could not be happier that its turn has arrived, said Jennifer Herman, executive director.
"We are truly honored to be chosen as this year's beneficiary," she said. "We know that there were other deserving organizations being considered, and we do not take for granted the opportunity that has been given to us to not only raise money, but also raise awareness for what we do."
The opportunity comes at a particularly good time for OASIS, which received a grant in 2010 from the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency to significantly renovate and expand their free emergency shelter for victims and their children who are fleeing domestic abuse and violence. The grant requires a 30 percent match.
"Money from Celebrity Serve will help us come closer to our goal of raising $150,000 for upgrading shelter security, removing asbestos, replacing old wiring and plumbing, installing energy efficient appliances, and expanding both the adult and children's living areas," said Rebecca Gummere, OASIS associate director.
The Celebrity Serve committee encourages the community to come out in force to show its support for OASIS as it continues to serve those in domestic violence situations.
For more information about OASIS, Inc., call (828) 264-1532. For those in abusive situations, call the 24-hour crisis line numbers: (800) 268-1488, (within area codes: 828, 336 and 423); (828) 262-5035, (within the Boone area); (828) 264-3761, (page via sheriff's office)
2011 Celebrity Serve Participants
The following restaurants - and their chosen personalities - will be participating in Celebrity Serve this year:
• Bandana's - Dee Dee Rominger (WCSO), Dana Crawford (Boone PD), Gunther Doerr (ASU PD), John Welch (ASU Operations); Dr. Robby Bridgeman (Bridgeman Dental Arts)
• Boone Drug - Lunch only: John Stacey; Jim Furman; Joe Miller
• Casa Rustica - Jeff Collins (Peabody's), Tommy Light, Chip Norwood, Joseph Bathanti, Elizabeth Hempfling (wedding planner)
• Galileo's - Melissa Reaves; ASU Women's Basketball assistant head coach Darcie Vincent and assistant coach Heather Kearney and ASU Women's Basketball Team
• Makoto's - Lunch: Buzz Berry ('Sqrambled Scuares'), Paul Moore (asst. dir. Wellness Center),
Gene Fowler (publisher, Mountain Times Publications), ASU Men's Basketball head coach Jason Capel, Richard Sparks (CEO, ARHS), Dinner: Coach Jerry Moore, Coach Mark Speir, Dave Rowe (Oakland Raiders Super Bowl champ), Roman Gabrielle III (former NFL player), DeAndre Pressley (ASU QB), Jamal Jackson (ASU QB), Jeremy Kimbrough (ASU LB), Wayne and Amy Eberle (Valle Crucis School Principal and Hardin Park teacher), Doc Hendley (Water to Wine), Ray Russell (Ray's Weather) - Music by "Hometown Hero"
• Mr. Original Gyro's - Lunch: Boone Mayor Loretta Clawson
• Panera Bread - Appalachian Rollergirls (dinner)
• Pepper's - Hanes Boren, Tim Baxter, Jonathan Brubaker, Mike Taylor, Stacy Conn, Linda Robinson, Tom Adams
• Primo's - Tim Futrelle, Dave Blanks, Adam Hicks; Amber Hendley & High Country Cloggers
• Storie Street Grille - "Bald Guy" Don Cox, Bob Hess, Eric Brown (Blowing Rock chief of police), Scott Hildebran (Blowing Rock town manager)
• The Peddler Steak House - Vanessa Minton (High Country Dance Studio) and Daniel Minton (Denton Insurance); Therese Godwin (High Country Dance Studio) and Jim Godwin (Hardin Park Principal)
• The Town Tavern - Nate Seamone, Rich Brown, Brad Vines, Joey Lucas
• Troy's 105 Diner - ASU Women's Basketball
assistant coaches Andrea Gross and Nora Jabbour and ASU Women's Basketball Team
• Woodland's BBQ - A strong possibility of Franklin Graham and others TBA