“Mommy, you need to wash your eyes; they’re all red.” This was the observation noted by Neeley Hatridge’s 4-year-old son after one of many marathon planning sessions as part of the team who organized the 100th Anniversary Centennial Ball. Many long hours were spent dealing with every detail big and small – from how to turn a sports venue into a formal setting to ironing 400 napkins in the wee hours of the morning.
Neeley actually joined the team a little late, on the heels of a vacancy in the Foundation office. The 100th Anniversary committee headed by Dr. Bonnie Suderman and Amber Chiang, had been meeting for months; planning specific to the gala began in earnest in March of 2013. Amber Chiang, Marketing and Public Relations Director, and foundation employees Mike Stepanovich, Lisa Kent, and Debbie Zuech were part of the team that supported the magnificent event. Theme ideas sprang from starting with the school colors, then googling such topics as themed weddings, proms, and galas, looking for inspiration.
Although Neeley has experience in event planning, this was the first one she had attempted with a fund-raising element attached. For this part of the evening we had incredible support from Lauraine Cook and Ann Smart. The auction netted a profit of more than $22K. 437 tickets were sold and there were several table sponsorships.
Being able to borrow some decorations from her mother-in-law’s store, The French Quarter, also helped the event’s bottom line. Neeley’s mother-in-law, Julie Hatridge, attended interior decorating and design classes at Bakersfield College over twenty years ago, and has since opened her own shop in the northwest.
Both Amber and Neeley were effusive in their comments about the support received from the staff and volunteers. Particularly essential to the event were facilities scheduler Tarina Perry, and custodial manager Ramon Puga, and their entire army of maintenance and operations crew who made the enormous task of transforming the gym a simple one. The coaching staff were gracious about relocating team practices so that the decorators could move in and transform the gym. Keeping the event secure was Bakersfield College’s team of Public Safety officers, who not only provided event security, but parking lot security as well as guests left for the evening.
For those who were there, and those who could not join us, the college has created a photo album online of images from this magical night.
Blog published on Jan 1, 2014 from Barnes and Nobles.