The members of Soroptimists International of Valencia gathered for the culmination of their Gentlemen for a Cause fundraiser campaign at Wolf Creek Brewery on Sunday.
This is the ninth year that the Soroptimists have held the Gentlemen for a Cause fundraiser. However, this year the organization decided to run it as a multipart “team edition” campaign. Whereas in previous years they held the fundraiser on a single day as a black-tie auction, this year’s trivia, go-kart racing and bowling tournaments culminated in Sunday’s casual, family-friendly cornhole tournament and live auction.
Since January, 10 teams of four men each competed to raise funds and win the highest number of points at each of the year’s Gentlemen for a Cause tournaments. The teams had their own charities they were supporting, like Single Mothers Outreach and the Domestic Violence Center. The team with the most points gained an extra donation toward their cause from Soroptimists International.
On top of that, each team offered a package of services or goods at a live auction ranging from estate planning to golf and whiskey packages. The money raised from the auction supports the organization’s career support program for junior high girls, “Dream it Be it,” and the “Live Your Dream” higher education fund for women who are the heads of their households.
Stephanie Sewell, president of Soroptimists International of Valencia, wanted to help better engage the community and also form a closer relationship with the men who support the organization, which led to the idea of transforming the fundraiser into a team affair.
“It used to be just a one-day event where the men donated things for auction and we didn’t see them again until the next year, but this time we wanted to get to know them better,” Sewell said. “This way, the men who normally participate in Gentlemen for a Cause got their friends and coworkers involved which helps us integrate better into the community.”
When the organization previously held the Gentlemen for a Cause event, only about 10 men participated each year. By adding the team element, they were able to quadruple participation and sign up 40 men to participate.
Event co-chair Lisa West said she anticipates the event to raise between $15,000 and $20,000 this year. Last year, all of their events in total raised about $32,000. She is pleased with the positive response to the implementation of the teams and plans to keep them for next year.
“It’s amazing to see these men come together to raise money for the women and girls of the community,” West said. “Everyone was so excited to have the event be so casual and have a charity event where they can get together with their friends and not have to dress fancy.”
Bryan Steiner attended the event with his friend Chrissy Gonzales, who is a board member of Soroptimists International. He said he enjoyed the sense of inclusion he felt at the event while also helping to raise money for worthy causes.
“Just because I’m a man doesn’t mean that I can’t help raise money for women and if there is an event that helps women’s causes, then I definitely want to be a part of it,” Steiner said. “It’s about uniting to help the greater cause for the community.”