Written by a representative for the Muskoka Community Foundation
On May 2, the Muskoka Community Foundation and a group of dedicated volunteers hosted the Stay at Home Gala. The purpose behind the event was to bring people together
and create a sense of community, something that had been impacted due to COVID-19, and to raise much needed funds for charities working to support the Muskoka community. Over 300 people logged on to participate in the virtual event to support charities in Muskoka while enjoying all of the elements of a regular gala.
The gala was co-hosted by HBR morning host Grant Nickalls and Huntsville artist Helena Renwick. Both Nickalls and Renwick guided viewers through an evening of local entertainment that included Tobin Spring, Sean Cotton, Lukas Stark, Jed and Isla Corbeil, and Miranda Mulholland. The event also included an hour of national content with Canadian Olympian Hayley Wickenheiser as one of the evenings keynote speakers.
The Stay at Home Gala also included the option to purchase a gala meal. According to Lynn DeCaro, executive director of the Muskoka Community Foundation, the gala meal was one of the biggest logistical challenges of the evening.
“It was decided early on that to truly make this feel like a gala there needed to be a four-course meal available as an option for those attending. Without hesitation Jeff Suddaby of 3 Guys and a Stove in Huntsville, David Friesen of Riverwalk in Bracebridge and Robbie Irvine of The Oar in Gravenhurst jumped on board to make this happen. They quickly agreed that the meal should have the same elements but allow for each restaurant to highlight their unique culinary signatures.”
This resulted in a four-course meal that was shared by gala attendees across Muskoka. DeCaro also noted the extraordinary efforts made by volunteers across Muskoka to make sure that each meal was delivered hot and ready to eat when the gala started at 7 p.m.
“There were over 300 meals served from just north of Huntsville, down through Bracebridge and Gravenhurst and west to Port Carling. This was done by volunteers from Caretagion in Gravenhurst, the Rotary Club in Bracebridge and the Chamber of Commerce in Huntsville. It was an amazing coordinated effort that made the evening truly feel like a fancy evening out all while in the comforts and safety of our homes.”
In the end, the evening raised over $48,000 to support both the Huntsville and Bracebridge Hospital Foundations, Muskoka Women’s Shelters and Services (MWAG) and ten food security programs working in each of Muskoka’s six municipalities. DeCaro expressed her heartfelt thanks to everyone who made this evening happen.
“We had about three weeks to pull the Stay at Home Gala together. This was only possible because of the dedication and hard work of the Muskoka Champion Team that included Beth and Scott Goodhew, Shelley McLean, Rob Saunders, Grant Nickalls and Helena Renwick. Some of us already knew each other but had never worked together before. In the week leading up to the event, we were meeting everyday by Zoom to go over all of the logistics of the event. The amazing thing was we never met in person the entire time we were working on the Gala. We are all looking forward to a time when we can safely get together to celebrate the success of the evening.”