In support of local Veterans, the City of Lacey is hosting the biennial Lacey Mayor’s Gala on May 31. Set at the Lacey Campus of South Puget Sound Community College (SPSCC), the Gala will be an evening of food, festivities, and support for those who have served. The dress is cocktail attire and all proceeds from the event will benefit the Lacey Veterans Services Hub (Hub), a network of service providers that connect Veterans with health, transportation, education, and other vital resources.

City of Lacey Mayor's Gala Veterans Services Hub Lacey Mayor Andy Ryder
The Lacey Veterans Services Hub connects those who served with housing, financial, educational and mental health resources. Photo courtesy: City of Lacey

The tradition of the Mayor’s Gala was inaugurated in 2017 and coincided with Lacey’s 50 Anniversary Celebration. The Gala originated as an event for the community to learn more about the Hub and as a tangible way for citizens to assist local Veterans. “One of our favorite parts of the evening is the community coming together, having a good time, and supporting our local Veterans,” says Community Relations Specialist for the City of Lacey, Jenny Bauersfeld.

Launched in October 2016, the Veterans Services Hub of Lacey is an unprecedented one-stop-shop for Veterans and their families to connect to a myriad of community resources. The Hub focuses on the whole person and Veterans can find advice and access to programs for housing, employment, education, counseling, and more. From finances to mental health, they have a program to help every Veteran. “Currently, the Hub includes 52 service providers and partners with 6 additional providers waiting for available space to join the effort,” says Bauersfeld.

Financial and Housing Assistance

Navigating and accessing VA benefits can be a complicated process, but the Hub offers Veterans Services Officers who can talk with Veterans, individually, and create a plan for accessing the appropriate VA benefits. Transportation to the American Lake VA Medical Center at Joint Base Lewis McChord, is also available Monday through Thursday. Veterans can also get legal assistance, if needed.

City of Lacey Mayor's Gala Veterans Services Hub Lacey Service Members
The Lacey Veterans Services Hub helped veterans make over 6,500 appointments in 2018. Photo courtesy: City of Lacey

They offer courses on financial literacy and have several job-resource programs for Veterans looking for work.

Veterans in need of housing assistance can connect with a number of shelters, affordable housing organizations, or government grants.

Mental Health Support

For mental health services, the Hub provides in-house counseling sessions, group support, and peer advising. They have a monthly group for women Veterans and host regular events that focus on trauma recovery and emotional wellness.

Nutrition and Education Opportunities

The Veterans Services Hub is also connected to the Thurston County Food Bank, helping provide nutritious food for former service members, as well as nutrition classes. For Veterans looking to return to school, the Hub can help forge pathways to education including connecting those who served with government grant programs.

A Gala to Give Back

”The Hub and its outstanding service providers are truly filling a tremendous need in our community,” Lacey Mayor Andy Ryder said, adding “In 2018 alone, the Lacey Veterans Services Hub facilitated nearly 6,500 client appointments. I’m excited to spend an evening with our community members, raising awareness and money to support our local Veterans.”

City of Lacey Mayor's Gala Veterans Services Hub Fundraiser
All the proceeds from the Mayor’s Gala will go to the Lacey Veterans Services Hub.
Photo courtesy: City of Lacey

The Mayor’s Gala is an opportunity to contribute to the Hub’s work and facilitate the expansion of services for local Veterans in Thurston County. The first Mayor’s Gala directly supported many current Hub programs. “One hundred percent of the proceeds raised at the Mayor’s Gala will go to the Lacey Veterans Services Hub,” says Bauersfeld. “The money raised at the 2017 Gala funded several services at the Hub, including new training and meeting room equipment, new furniture, the Vans for Veterans pilot program, emergency voucher program, and the volunteer recognition program.”

The gala will be complete with a social hour and string quartet with drinks and appetizers served. Dinner follows with the evening’s main program, a dessert dash, and paddle raise. The event is an opportunity to socialize and have a good time, while also helping to support some of Thurston County’s 32,000 Veterans. “It’s going to be a fun evening,” says Bauersfeld. “National statistics indicate that nearly one-half of our Veteran population may never access their earned benefits, so for Lacey to have this resource in our community is priceless. There is no other model like this throughout the nation.”

The City of Lacey Mayor’s Gala is on May 31 from 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. at the South Puget Sound Community College Lacey Campus. Individual tickets for the Mayor’s Gala cost $50, a table of 8 is $400. To purchase tickets to the gala, visit the City of Lacey website. Donations for the dessert dash are also being sought. Contact the City of Lacey for more information on dessert donations.

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