In the lofty, sleek lobby of Mercedes Benz of Seattle, guests, dressed to the nines in formal and semi-formal attire, mixed and mingled to the beats of DJ Mike or Miked Up Productions. Several feet above the guests’ heads, two trapeze artists spun from a hoop dangling from the ceiling like mistletoe. Across the room, a Silent Auction took place, with items including spa and restaurant experiences, perfect for stuffing the stockings of friends and family.
The gracious hosts for the evening were Tracy Klinkroth (of Epiphany Events & ChickChat) and Chris Bias (of Bias Investments). In the past, these two philanthropists had hosted separate functions, a “Christmakkah” party and a toy drive. Eventually they decided to combine their efforts on a future endeavor to raise money for two charitable organizations near and dear to Chris’s heart: Childhaven, and The Market Foundation’s Senior Center and Food Bank.
Half the proceeds from the evening were donated to Childhaven in Target gift cards, to purchase Christmas gifts for children who are survivors of abuse or neglect. Childhaven works not only to help children and their families to heal from traumatic pasts, but also to prevent future trauma. Unfortunately, Childhaven had recently lost Medicaid funding, after depending on it for decades. The 70-year-old organization was reeling from the news; the withdrawal could have a devastating impact on the organization’s ability to survive.
The other half of the proceeds will go to The Market Foundation Senior Center. One of the lesser-known functions of The Pike Place Market (other than hosting throngs of tourists eager to watch fish flying through the air) is that it serves as a home for many low-income residents of Seattle. The Market Foundation and its Senior Center and Food Bank provide food, medical care, childcare and education, and homes for those in need. The Senior Center serves senior citizens “who are facing the realities of hunger, aging, poverty, poor health, and social isolation.” Services include assistance finding jobs or housing, language and exercise classes, hot meals and a place to socialize.
As was promised on their home page, Seattle Snow Ball‘s crowd was swanky, and ready to enjoy an evening of entertainment and glamour while helping those in their community most in need. One guest, Anthony, the Manager of PF Chang’s in Bellevue, had a personal connection to Chris. Chatting one day, they learned they had both spent time in the Navy, though Anthony pointed out, “Chris is very humble about that.” Anthony’s admiration for Chris was clear. “He always brings it back to the kids,” he said, “even though this event is posh.” Many of the guests, who had learned about the event on Facebook, were excited to have an opportunity to socialize in a glamorous setting, but also give money to deserving causes. Ultimately, $14,000 was raised from the gala, the result of a little bit of social networking and a whole lot of style.