Water is life


Local businesses, volunteers participate in annual charity ball

By Nancy Edwards

A community of volunteers, local businesses and the Fishers Rotary Club are collaborating to create the spirit of giving this holiday season for residents of Sierra Leone, Africa. The second Water Is Life Charity Ball, hosted by the Fishers Rotary Club, will be auctioning Christmas trees to raise money for thousands of residents in Sierra Leone who do not have access to clean drinking water. The ball is 6 to 11 p.m. on Dec. 7 at Forum C.U. Conference Center.

“This has been a great outreach event in the town of Fishers,” said John Weingardt, honorary chairperson for this year’s charity ball. “There are great volunteers involved. Folks here share care and concern; they’re making a better life for the people of Sierra Leone.”

Local vendors are currently displaying Christmas trees that have been created by volunteer designers in the community. These trees will be up for auction at the charity ball. Gallery 116 will show a Christmas tree and a festive holiday tablescape beginning Nov. 14 with an open house.

“This year we have more awareness (of the event), and the fact that it’s backed by the Rotary Club gives some substance that (the community) can relate to,” said Gallery 116 co-owner Tracy Gritter. “It’s just good for everybody around.”

This is the second year that Gallery 116 will be involved with the event. The Rotary Club also will be providing a trail map for visitors to get a visual for where the trees are located.

Last year’s charity ball raised $55,000. That amount, along with matching funds from the Rotary Club, provided fresh water for thousands of people in Sierra Leone.

Contributing to Water Is Life has brought perspective to volunteers and members of Fishers Rotary Club, including board member Rusty Webb.

“In Sierra Leone, little boys wear two liter bottles as shoes, and there is one outfit shared between two little boys,” he said. “We’re so blessed here; I have a car and don’t even complain about the traffic anymore.”

Many guests of last year’s charity ball, including David Berman, said they appreciated the food, tone, entertainment and the organization of the event.

“The venue was perfect for this very significant event in the Fishers Rotary commitment to service,” Berman said. “The big band was superb, the event well-coordinated; between food service, entertainment and the silent auction. The atmosphere in both the lobby and in the ballroom was one of appreciation and community. The guests enjoyed their meal, which was well-prepared and served, plentiful and tasted very good.”

Fishers Rotary member, Beth Gehlhausen, called the experience of last year’s event “a wonderful night.”

“I am so proud to be a Fishers Rotarian,” she said.

Weingardt encourages the public to enjoy a fun night out. “Get out, relax and have a great evening,” he said.

The best part, of course, is helping to save lives through providing clean water, which is what the Rotary Club has been doing since 2008. Since then, over $550,000 has been raised and 100,000 people have had access to clean water.

“As a born Sierra Leone, on behalf of our mothers, fathers, children and nation, I want to thank you all for doing the best you all could to save lives in Sierra Leone,” stated Massah Saffa, who lives in Sierra Leone. “Water is life, and as you give our people life, God will breathe a life of blessing to you.”

Tickets are still available. Guests will once again be treated to a cocktail hour, three-course dinner, a live jazz/swing orchestra, dancing, and live and silent auctions, in addition to “Indy’s Best Santa,” Ty Stover. Dress is black-tie optional.

This year’s silent auction will offer Pacers tickets, a limo ride, tires, jewelry, trips and more.

“Seeing the faces of the children and their parents (from Sierra Leone) in the video of this amazing gift of life (pure clean water) will never leave me,” Berman concluded.


If you go: The second Water Is Life Charity Ball will be held from 6 to 11 p.m. Dec. 7 at Forum C.U. Conference Center, 11313 USA Pkwy. The cocktail reception starting at 6 p.m. will be followed by dinner, live and silent auctions and live music from a jazz/swing orchestra. Tickets are $100 each. To make reservations or become a sponsor, visit fishersrotary.com. The deadline to register for the event is Dec. 2.