Annual Garden Party supports Fox Valley Hands of Hope's work
Volunteers make the engine known as Geneva-based Fox Valley Helping Hands hum.
And the volunteer piece is what keeps DeKalb resident and Geneva businesswoman Lenore Kula coming back to the group, which provides hospice and grief/loss programs and services to individuals throughout Kane and Kendall counties, as well as parts of DuPage County.
"I love the camaraderie between volunteers," she said. "Someone once said we have a small footprint in the community, but we have such a big reach. That impressed me. We really help a lot of people in these communities."
Kula is part of the committee that puts on the organization's largest fundraiser of the year, the Garden Party. This year's Fox Valley Hands of Hope Garden Party takes place Friday, May 25, at the Q Center in St. Charles. Doors open at 10 a.m.
Kula said the group is expecting a crowd of 800 for the party, which includes a silent auction, showcases, a live auction, a full lunch and other entertainment. Tickets to the event are $70 each and can be purchased by visiting fvhh.net/our-events/garden-party/.
The Garden Party, in its 20th year, is Fox Valley Hands of Hope's largest event fundraiser. Funds raised from the party go toward providing all of Fox Valley Hands of Hope's community-based services to help adults, children and families cope with loss at no cost to the community.
"The volunteers on this committee have such commitment, dedication and passion," she said. "That's what makes it phenomenal to me."
Kula had been attending the Garden Party as a guest due to her involvement in the Geneva business community (Kula is the co-owner of Partners in Mortgage). "One of the ladies in our company had been a volunteer and asked me for suggestions for prize baskets. I suggested a home-office basket would be nice. She said the good news is they loved the idea, the bad news is you are in charge of it."
Kula noted the themed raffle baskets have been a huge hit at the event. The home-office basket she spoke of included a desk, computer, scanner, bookshelf and a chair.
"We also have a 'dream-on' basket, which is a bedroom set," she explained. "There are a lot of different types of baskets and chances to win. Some of the baskets, the contents are worth a couple thousand dollars. We'll do anywhere from 18 to 20 of these baskets. We get a lot of support from the community for us. It helps us raise a lot of funds."
Fox Valley Hands of Hope Executive Director Greg Weider marvels at the work the volunteers put into the Garden Party.
"Our Garden Party has a committee of 40 folks who spend nine to 10 months pulling this event together," he said. "It's a special event that we're hoping for 800 people to attend and help us spread the word of what we do in these communities."
Kula also is blown away by the volunteer efforts that are put into the event.
"These women are so selfless," she said. "I've never seen women work so hard for a common cause and be so committed to an organization and event. We love it and we have a lot of fun. These all are good people. If anybody has any interest in volunteering, these people will absorb you right in and use your forte, whether its scrapbooking or crafting. You will have a place here. There always is something for you to help with while having fun along the way. I lost my mom and it's important to me to be doing something to help other people who might be suffering in the same way."