WRC Celebration of Life Gala going virtual

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By Hannah Richardson

The Gala will be Sept. 24, beginning at 6:30 p.m. The keynote speaker will be Benjamin Clapper, executive director of Louisiana Right to Life. Louisiana Right to Life, established in 1970, works through education, activism, legislation and service to restore the right to life in Louisiana. During his years with Louisiana Right to Life, Clapper has built a volunteer-run organization into a professional operation making an impact in Louisiana from the State Capitol to the high school classroom. During his time working to advance pro-life legislation, Louisiana has been at or near the top of the list of most pro-life states in the nation. Clapper has worked on the political side to elect pro-life leaders to office. He also helped start pro-life youth training programs in many states through the “Life and Leadership Youth Camp Initiative.” For more information, visit www.wrcnatchitoches.org/events/gala.

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So far, in our new normal with COVID-19, we’ve seen a forced adaptation and even cancellation of annual events in Natchitoches. The future is up in the air, so it’s rather difficult to pin down plans for any future events. Organizations have been doing the best with what they’re given to adjust their yearly programs, and one shining example is the local Women’s Resource Center (WRC) and their Celebration of Life Gala, set for Sept. 24. It will now be online.

The WRC provides various services to hundreds of women every year so they can be educated and supported during their pregnancy. The Celebration of Life Gala is the center’s main yearly fundraiser and helps them continue to provide these services free of charge.

While unable to host the Gala during a public gathering like in previous years, the WRC is shifting the event to an online format. The Gala will be virtually live-streamed on the center’s Facebook page, according to WRC Executive Director Jennifer Luna. “Whether it is on their phone at work, on a break during a night-shift, hooked up to their TV with their family, or broadcast on the screen at their local church,” said Luna. “During these difficult and unprecedented times, we want to make sure that everyone knows that no one is exempt from the inclusive invitation this year to join us. We are thrilled to celebrate life and the critical programs and services that we provide daily to directly help our neighbors, coworkers, sisters and friends in their pregnancies. It will follow a similar format as past Galas, but with a shortened time frame of around an hour-long program.”

The WRC has been working swiftly to prepare for this drastic change. “One example is that while we are all not meeting together in the Natchitoches Events Center this year like past Galas, our zealous staff and volunteers will still be meeting there, just in a different capacity and ready to serve virtually.  We gratefully anticipate that the changes to our Gala this year will be welcomed during the pandemic. We know that no matter what platform our Gala may be held on, we will always continue to serve the unborn and women first,” said Luna.

While attendees are unable to physically meet in one location, it’s possible to host watch-parties in smaller groups. As of Aug. 3, Gov. John Bel Edwards is allowing indoor gatherings of up to 50 people. “The Annual Fundraising Gala is truly a beautiful time to come together and celebrate life. As it will be streamed on Facebook Live, we encourage the community to hop on and comment where they are joining us from and whom they are with or share how the Center has impacted you,” said Luna. “We always abide by our state and local guidelines, as well as encourage individual church and personal boundaries and comfortability.”

Sponsorships are also welcome; call 318-357-8888 or email wrcnatchitoches@gmail.com for more information. There will be a call center set up the night of the Gala, where volunteers can take donations during the program or provide information on the center’s services. “We will be right on the other line ready to talk with you about it all as we always have for the last 31 years since 1989,” said Luna.

The event page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/events/297934961434063/ for attendees to stay informed with the Gala.