September 24th is Alvis’ annual fundraising luncheon, Portraits of Recovery (aka POR). POR is an event that raises money for our Amethyst program. Two women who know a great deal about the program are Paige Bilotta, Alvis’ Development Director, and Arlene Reitter, Alvis’ Managing Director of Development and Communications.
“My role is to put donors in touch with our programs, and really support our programs from a more public and private standpoint,” says Bilotta. Her responsibilities also include connecting donors to Alvis’ mission, and informing them of what Alvis does. Alvis needs donors to grow and thrive as an organization. Reitter, whose role is similar to Bilotta in some aspects, works to connect donors to what Alvis does, and to “give them an opportunity to be a part of Alvis in all of our programs… our team works hard internally and externally regarding keeping communications open.” Internal communication applies to our 500-person staff, and external communication focuses on educating the community about Alvis’ far-reaching programs. The Portraits of Recovery luncheon, however, specifically focuses on Amethyst.
“Amethyst, which is a recovery program of Alvis, has been around since 1984,” says Bilotta. Recently acquired in 2017 by Alvis, Amethyst focuses on integrated behavioral healthcare treatment; it is unlike many other treatment and recovery programs, because it allows children to live with their mothers while they are in the Amethyst program. Amethyst has sponsored POR for many years. For more information about Amethyst’s remarkably extensive treatment plans for clients and their inspiring origin story, click here.
Specifically, money generated from the POR luncheon helps support SummerQuest, which is a summer camp for children whose moms are involved with recovery services at Amethyst. “It helps support some of the other peripheral things that happen,” says Bilotta, including aspects of the program that most people may not think about. For example, a huge benefit from POR is that it funds general housing expenses for its clients. “Every time a woman moves into our program, we give her a $40 card for Kroger so that she can fill her refrigerator.” This also includes kitchen and bathroom supplies for their apartments. Money raised from POR goes to aspects of Amethyst that are not funded by a grant or specific government dollars, which typically go to the integrated behavioral healthcare services that Amethyst provides instead. “We remove the barriers for women,” adds Bilotta, so they can focus on recovery in a safe, comfortable environment.
Last year, this event generated $90,000 in proceeds for the Amethyst program. Funding from events make up almost half of the private contributions to Alvis, according to Bilotta.
Both Portraits of Recovery and Alvis’ other large-scale fundraising event, Evening of Light (aka EOL), are vitally important to the continuation of growing our services to clients. “Community awareness was a really big goal of the events,” emphasizes Reitter. Alvis started Evening of Light 6 years ago, in order to fund our Family and Children’s Program. No government entity was giving funding for our clients’ children affected by incarceration. “We could not leave the children behind who have been affected by incarceration,” says Reitter. “We took a leap and started an event without any solid funding. It has grown and grown… a client tells her story during the event, and you can hear a pin drop, because it is just amazing what they’ve overcome and just how far they have come to be successful” Prior to EOL, Alvis wasn’t very well known in community, and that was on purpose—the organization didn’t feel the need to showcase its impact, but over time, leaders and staff have grown enthusiastic about raising awareness of Alvis and everything that we provide.
When asked where she hoped to see these events going in the future (particularly POR), Reitter was enthusiastic about expansion: “Go big or go home!”
Bilotta echoed her sentiments. “It would be great for POR to grow to expand our audience… Amethyst might be one of the best kept secrets in Columbus, in terms of people being aware that it’s a resource for women…it would be great to reach out beyond the audience that we have and reach new people to connect to our mission.” Currently, about 300 people attend POR, but Bilotta hopes to see that number grow to 500 or more.
In addition to private donations from individuals, there are some major organizations that donate to the event, including Nationwide Insurance, Huntington Bank, AEP, OhioHealth, Donatos, and Grange Insurance. This year (and in year’s prior) there is also an anonymous donor who will match everything raised in the event up to $15,000!
Each year at the event we honor an individual or business with the Purple Heart Award. This year, the award is going to L Brands Foundation, who has supported community programs that empower women, and the nurturing and mentoring of children. They have demonstrated longstanding leadership and volunteer service to the Amethyst Board, and now, to the Alvis Board of Trustees. They are also involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters and the YWCA.
Sponsorships, tickets and donations can be made directly through the website. There are lots of opportunities for people to get involved in turning lives around—particularly those of women and children in need of help.
Alvis is a nonprofit human services agency with over 50 years of experience providing highly effective treatment programs in Ohio. Our vision is that communities value a person’s potential more than their past. For more information on how Alvis can help you or to learn more about how you can get involved, contact us here.