It was a momentous occasion for the Westerville Education Foundation's An Artful Affair, with the May 5 event marking the largest fundraiser in the foundation's history.
More than 250 guests gathered at the Lakes Golf and Country Club for the fundraiser, presented by Education First Credit Union and Mount Carmel St. Ann's.
"We raised over $70,000 and had more than 250 people in attendance," said Colleen Moidu, foundation executive director. "We are already excited for next year."
The event featured artwork from local professional and student artists, as well as live music from local jazz musicians. It raised funds through sponsorships, ticket sales and an art auction.
Jan Fedorenko, foundation board member and chairwoman of art acquisition for An Artful Affair, said more artwork was available this year, all reasonably priced.
"There's more to bid on," she said. "We limited it to student art from the high school this year because we didn't have room. It gives a different clientele."
Fedorenko said Blair IT stored all the art before and after the event.
"Dennis Blair opened his office doors after hours to help facilitate artist drop-off and the pick-up by foundation for the day of the event," she said.
Westerville school district residents Kevin and Kate Kindy experienced An Artful Affair for the first time.
Kate Kindy said she was bidding on anything that sparked her interest.
Nicole Carter, wife of foundation board president Erick Carter, said she attended to support his mission, but she was also enthusiastic about bidding on a particular piece of art.
The event helped the foundation celebrate its 25th anniversary.
Foundation grant recipients as well as teachers of the month and early board members Kathy Cocuzzi, Jeff Copeland, Frank Kersanty and Dave Kotary, all of whom were in attendance, were recognized.
"It was an amazing evening focused on enhancing education in our schools," said John Kellogg, Westerville City School District superintendent. "The response to this event shows how much the Westerville area community cares about our students and our staff."
Placing a focus on the future of the foundation, presenting sponsors Education First Credit Union and Mount Carmel St. Ann's, each contributing $10,000 to the foundation, announced some programs for the upcoming school year.
Mike Wettrich, president and CEO of Education First, announced that his company is committing $1,500 to help teachers new to the Westerville schools set up their first classroom.
Citing that teachers on average spend $500 to $1,000 out of their own pockets annually for classroom supplies, Wettrich said the $1,500 will be divided evenly and made available to teachers new to the profession through the foundation's adopt-a-classroom program.
Unhee Kim, president of Mount Carmel St. Ann's, announced a Project HEALTH grant that will be available to Westerville school staff in the 2018-19 school year through the foundation's grant process.
Kim said the grant would fund programs that connect students with aspects of health, including education, active lifestyle, leadership, technology, home and food.
"We have a wonderfully unique district with amazing employees," Moidu said. "The WEF allows our creative and motivated district staff to pursue innovative programming for students. Thanks to the community's support for this event, we will be able to fund even more of these great programs in the future."
Proceeds from the event support the Westerville Education Foundation in its mission to fund innovative educational programming in the school district. For more information visit westervilleeducation foundation.com or email Moidu at ExecutiveDirector@WestervilleEducationFoundation.com.