Habitat for Humanity hosts fall gala fundraiser

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published November 13, 2013

BIRMINGHAM — With the chill of fall hanging in the air, it becomes all the more clear why it’s important for every family to have a warm, safe place to call home.

That’s why Habitat for Humanity of Oakland County is gearing up to host its first-ever signature fundraiser, the Fall Extravaganza, next week in downtown Birmingham.

The event will be held at The Townsend Hotel Nov. 21. Funds raised that evening will go to benefit Habitat for Humanity’s efforts locally to eliminate poverty and substandard housing.

To do that, the organization accepts donations of homes or lots, and builds or renovates those spaces to turn over to families in need, who then pay a no-profit mortgage held by Habitat. To date, Habitat has built or renovated 600,000 homes worldwide — 165 of which are right here in Oakland County.

During the fundraising event, guests will enjoy a performance by musician Alexander Zonjic, along with food and plenty of socializing.

But the real highlight of the night will be the chance for guests to see why they’re really there: Habitat will present a program on the hidden poverty that exists within Oakland County, one of the wealthiest counties in the nation.

“Last year, we received 680 applications from around Oakland County, and we were only able to build 20 homes,” said Joyce Russell, director of Development and Partnerships for Habitat of Oakland. “The more support we get, the more homes we can build for well-deserving low-income families. There’s definitely a need. The disparity between low-income families and being one of the 10th wealthiest counties in the country is great.”

Russell said she selected The Townsend for the event because of its impeccable food and service, but most importantly for its location. It’s a central location for all those who might attend the fundraiser, she said, particularly corporate donors. She said she’s confident that The Townsend’s reputation will draw more guests to the event, and in turn, more funds. The organization is hoping to collect at least $75,000 during the fundraiser, and Russell said she believes they’re well on their way to doing that.

This coming year, Habitat is on track to help 13 families find the safe, affordable housing they need, according to Tim Ruggles, executive director/CEO of Habitat Oakland. In addition, many more families will be able to stay in their homes, thanks to the Critical Home Repairs program, which fixes serious or threatening home problems with the help of a nonprofit loan for repair work from Habitat.

But without the funds, Habitat can only do so much for Oakland County families in need.

“This year, our goal has been to help more people find safe and affordable housing, through our efforts to rebuild Oakland County,” said Ruggles in a prepared statement. “This event is the first time we will invite the many communities within our county to come together and pool our efforts to help raise up everyone living around and near us. We are one connected community with a vision of everyone having a decent place to live.”

The Fall Extravaganza event will begin at 6 p.m. Nov. 21. Tickets start at $175. Dress is business attire, and complimentary valet parking will be available on Merrill Street. To learn more, or to register for the event, visit www.habitatoak land.org or call (248) 338-1843.

The Townsend Hotel is located at 100 Townsend St. in downtown Birmingham.