Wesley Glen’s annual gala celebrates residents, raises support
April 02, 2021
By Dr. Tyler Plaxico, President/CEO, Wesley Glen Ministries, Inc.
The Gospel of John tells us that Christ, our Lord, came to give us all life, abundant life. From this we see that it was always God’s desire for humanity to have a rich and satisfying life, rather than just a mere existence. At Wesley Glen Ministries, we believe that the goal of abundant life is the standard by which we seek to provide those under our care with a fullness of life through the very best care that we can offer.
As an organization that believes we have been called by God to provide excellent 24-hour residential and day program support to adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, Wesley Glen has, over the last couple of years, sought to recapture this core mission of Christian servitude. We have done so by intentionally centering all of our efforts on honoring God through service to the people under our care. With this thought in mind, we at Wesley Glen began to pray and brainstorm about a new event that would take the place of our Annual Fish Fry. We wanted this new event to truly to celebrate our residents and bring in much-needed support that would help us to offer the fullness of life we seek to give to all of those under our care.
The Abundant Life Gala became the product of this prayerful soul-searching. This event was held for the very first time on Feb. 22, 2020, and became a huge success. We held the event in the gym of our Life Skills Center, located on our main campus in Macon, and the event featured live music provided by the wonderful Grapevine Band, a catered dinner, dancing, and a time for us to tell the story of what we do at Wesley Glen.
We had hundreds of guests join us on this night. They were introduced to our residents, were given a glimpse into the purpose of Wesley Glen, and were able to celebrate abundantly by dancing and sharing laughter with those we serve. On this night, we met our financial goal by being gifted more financial support than we had ever received in one setting and we were able to tell our story to the largest group ever assembled on our campus. It really was a night of abundance!
The success of this event came just one month before the dark cloud of Covid-19 descended upon our world. In just a matter of days after this incredible night, our entire campus and all of those we serve were placed under a state-mandated shelter-in-place order that has kept all we serve in a year-long quarantine. This has meant that all community activities for our residents were prohibited, our Day Program was closed for eight months, and Special Olympics, Night to Shine, Camp Twin Lakes, and many other events our residents have come to love were canceled.
This has all made for a very difficult year at Wesley Glen, and while we can still celebrate that our Covid protocols have allowed us to continue a zero-infection rate for all those we serve, it has still been very difficult for our organization that seeks to offer the abundant life of Christ. So, as the anniversary of our first annual Abundant Life Event began to get closer and closer, we decided that not only would we continue with our efforts at planning our second Abundant Life event, but that we would make it even better than the first, while still ensuring that it was both safe and effective for those we serve.
This second annual Abundant Life Gala tool place on March 6, 2021, and it was an amazing success. This event was certainly different than our first Abundant Life event – this year it was a virtual event, there was no live music, there was no formal dinner and there was no large crowd – yet in many ways this event had a larger impact than we could have ever imagined. With the assistance of Good News TV, we were able to retool this event and to put it out to a wider audience, which included reaching people from all throughout the southeast, which greatly broadened our reach. In so doing, we were able to raise more financial support on this night than we did in the previous year and we exceeded the fundraising goal that we set by more than we could ever have imagined.
We could never have accomplished this feat without the help of our amazing supporters like Nancy Grace, a longtime supporter of ours who graciously recorded a video extolling the virtues of our organization that reached thousands of people. Our volunteers tirelessly worked to design our set, deliver our materials and assist us in any way we needed. The fine members of the South Georgia Annual Conference helped by letting their congregations know about the event and by giving so generously. For all of this, I would like to say “thank you” to all of you who helped to make this Abundant Life celebration a great success, even under difficult circumstances. We could not have done this without you. You enabled us to celebrate and to showcase the abundant life of those under our care and ensured the financial security we needed to help us continue to provide excellent supports to those we serve. You truly blessed us abundantly and we are so grateful!