NORTH WEBSTER — They arrived as early as 3:15 p.m. for North Webster Community Center’s Eighth Annual Heart of the Community Charity Auction and Raffle, which did not begin until 5 p.m. Many came to enjoy the food and fellowship, others came to view and bid on hundreds of silent auction items and/or a chance to purchase one or two 50 live auction auctions. Others came just to see who the three grand prize winners would be.
Vicki Martin, Leesburg, had left the event early, to avoid potential traffic congestion, so she wasn’t present when her name was drawn as the grand prize winner, by Jon Sroufe, member of the center’s board of directors. Auctioneer Brian Wuthrich called Martin on the phone, in front of the audience, to notify her. While Martin’s comments were not audible, she appeared surprised, based on comments made by Wuthrich.
Martin was given the choice of a vacation package, Polaris ranger, a pontoon boat or $10,000. Martin, after some thought, took the cash.
The second and third place grand prize winners were also not present. Winning $100 a month free groceries for a year from NewMarket was Steve Stinson, Leesburg. Ron Hudson, Warsaw, won the third place grand prize of $100 per month of gas for a year.
Dennis Wagoner, board president, called the results of the evening, wonderful. While an exact number was unknown, it was estimated a little over 1,000 attended. Over 1,200 pre-sale tickets were sold with another 100 tickets sold that evening, noting it was a record number in ticket sales. The amount raised has not yet been announced.
The evening was all about support for the community center. Wagoner noted the wide spectrum of ages present, from the very young to those young at heart, was exciting. Many were North Webster area residents, but faces from surrounding communities were also seen. “This is a family thing as well,” said Wagoner, adding it was “good entertainment,” and could be considered “the biggest single night event,” for the town being held in one building.
“It is nice to have Jerry Rhodes volunteer with us,” said Wagoner, remembering Rhodes meeting with other board members early on in the center’s existence in a small room with a space heater. Rhodes was named the first recipient of the NWCC Volunteer of the Year. The board began this new tradition to honor an individual who has dedicated time and energy to the betterment of the community center.
Rhodes served as a member of the board of directors for NWCC and has volunteered at the charity auction each year. He continues to serve on the board for SPEC and oversees the SPEC Walk-A-Thon fundraiser from start to finish. This year Rhodes raised over $10,000 for SPEC and the center. Rhodes is credited for getting the walking program started which now has dozens walking the halls daily. His dedication and focus is relentless to make the center the Heart of the Community, especially for those over 50.