The New Albany Women's Network raised $19,700 through its March 1 fundraiser, An Evening in New Albany, for the Helping Hands Center for Special Needs of Columbus.
"We're so grateful to the New Albany Women's Network," said Carol Argiro, the center's director of development. "They are such a thoughtful group and $19,700 is a nice gift."
The Helping Hands Center for Special Needs at 2500 Medary Ave. has 97 students enrolled, 87 with diagnoses and 10 without disabilities. It offers early-intervention programs and schooling for pre-kindergarten to seventh grade. It also offers therapy for children schooled elsewhere.
Argiro said tuition costs between $25,000 and $35,000 annually and autistic students are eligible for a $20,000 annual scholarship from the Ohio Department of Education if the child is not already enrolled in his or her home school district.
Most families still incur between $5,000 and $10,000 in out-of-pocket costs, Argiro said.
She said the money from the New Albany Women's Network would help parents with those costs.
Last year's event raised $34,000, which went into an endowment fund held by the New Albany Community Foundation.
Members of the New Albany Women's Network had hoped to raise more money during the fundraiser, but they exceeded the Helping Hands Center's request, NAWN spokeswoman Kerri Laubenthal Mollard said.
"Our joy comes from knowing that our donation will make an impact on other moms and families in our community," she said. "Our joy also comes from our ability to donate to them more than they requested. Helping Hands Center asked for $15,000 in their grant application, and we gave them $19,700."
Laubenthal Mollard said the New Albany Women's Network would reevaluate the fundraiser's format in 2015.
Network president Jennifer Glover said the fundraiser has grown from a party in a neighborhood cul-de-sac, to a party under a tent, to an evening dinner and auction and finally a more formal event.
"We are exploring what's next for this beloved NAWN event," Glover said.
Laubenthal Mollard said it is exciting to think about the next phase of the fundraiser, but network members keep in mind "all the hard work and effort behind An Evening in New Albany is for a cause that we care deeply about."
The New Albany Women's Network was founded in 1989 as a nonprofit organization "to enrich and foster a united community through various social, educational, outreach and charitable programs."