By Gemma Follari
About 380 people attended the Night Ministry’s ninth annual Lighting Up the Night Benefit Dinner and Auction on the evening of June 20.
This year, the number of attendees was greater than any of the previous eight years. When asked about the number of guests, President and CEO of The Night Ministry Paul Hamann said, “I was told 380 which for us is a record. So yes we’re really excited about that. We’re sold out!”
Hamann said the event is a night of celebration.
“It’s a night to really celebrate the work that we do, it’s a night to celebrate those who benefit from the work we do and most of all it’s a night to celebrate those who make our work possible.”
He said the dinner honors both volunteers and donors involved with the organization.
“It’s really our chance to let people know about what’s going on with the organization, the good work we’re doing on the streets and in our shelters, and be able to thank them for helping to make that work possible.”
During the live auction, Hamann auctioned off a home-cooked meal at his home in Evanston. The auctioneer spontaneously got Hamann to agree to two dinners-one for each of the top bidders and therefore raised double the money for The Night Ministry.
The Night Ministry has existed in Chicago for 37 years. According to Hamann, the organization “compassionately provides housing, healthcare, outreach and human connection to individuals who are living on the streets or who are lonely in the city of Chicago.”
Among the many things The Night Ministry does, the Health Outreach Bus is a 38 foot long bus that stops on the streets of Chicago four nights a week providing healthcare and food for impoverished people and the homeless.
The Night Ministry is also very involved with youth in Chicago. The organization provides 52 shelter beds for homeless youths from the ages of 14 to 24. The young adults can stay for just one night or for up to two years while figuring out how to support themselves.
“A lot of it is about making connections with people on the streets, making sure they’re safe and trying to do our best to link them to necessary services,” said Hamann.
This year The Night Ministry honored one individual and two groups that have dedicated a lot of time to helping The Night Ministry.
“These are three different individuals and corporations that really give back to their community and we’re really fortunate that they give back to the community through The Night Ministry,” said Hamann.
Long-term volunteer Willie Harris, People’s Gas whose employees volunteer their time every month to prepare sandwiches for The Night Ministry and the Lakeview Rotary Club were all honored this year for there work with The Night Ministry.
In addition to this being The Night Ministry’s largest Lighting Up the Night dinner ever, this was also the first time they used touchpads for the silent auction. This made the auction much more efficient said Stacey Massey, the Media Relations and Communications Coordinator for The Night Ministry.
Reporter Christian Farr of NBC5 emceed the event this year. Farr and his wife have both emceed the event in previous years and said “it was an honor to take part in this again. “
While working at WTTW, Farr reported stories on The Night Ministry.
“I found it to be an organization that just has a great deal of outreach, that helps a great deal in the community and is very needed,” he said.
“I like to see people coming together and giving what they can to this organization.”