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Black & Red Ball changes hands

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Pictured: Left- Art Crawford serves as vice president of the Silver Sage Community Center Board of Directors - and a tireless advocate for the center's Meals on Wheels program.

Right- This year, the Bandera Community Foundation rather than the Silver Sage Community Center will sponsor the Black & Red Ball. The annual Valentine's Kiss to the community will take place Saturday, Feb. 14.

This year's Black & Red Ball, scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 14, has been taken over by the Bandera Community Foundation. In the past, the Silver Sage Community Center had sponsored the glittering fundraiser - with proceeds earmarked for the Meals on Wheels program.
In an interview on Thursday, Dec. 28, Art Crawford, who serves as vice president for the community center's board of directors, explained the rationale behind the decision. "This is something we've been discussing since last year's Black & Red Ball," he said. "We grossed about $25,000 from the fundraiser, but we watched that 'pile of money' dwindle to about $8,000 after paying our expenses. That's when the board decided there had to be a more effective way to fund the Meals on Wheels program."
Each year, approximately 380 to 400 people attend the Black & Red Ball, but, according to Crawford, only 40 to 50 can be described as "generous donors."
"They buy tables for $500 and often spend over $1,000 at the silent auction. However, they can't take those expenditures off their taxes because they have received something in return for their donations," he explained. "On the other hand, if they write us a check for the same amount, that donation becomes tax deductible. Frankly, a lot of donors have indicated they would prefer just to write a check 'free and clear' to support the program."
Directors are also exploring other ways of funding the Meals on Wheels program, which provides 115 county residents with a hot meal daily. Recently, Crawford assisted with a golf tournament hosted by Brian Black and Charlotte Browning-Black, owners of the Longhorn Saloon. "They gave us a check for over $9,000 for the Meals on Wheels program. That's more than we made on last year's Black & Red Ball," Crawford noted.
Additionally, later next year, the board plans to hold an atypical "non-event." "Those who would like to donate to the program can just write us a check and stay home. Again, a lot of our donors seemed amenable to this type of 'fundraiser'," Crawford said. With something going on nearly every weekend in Bandera, a night at home might be a welcome relief for which people would be more than happy to donate.
Crawford also noted that people are becoming more knowledgeable about how nonprofits use donations. "We don't want people to think their donations are paying for catering, space rental, a band, decorations and roses on the tables. "We want to assure them their donations are actually helping to feed people in Bandera County."
To that end, he proudly pointed out that a recent financial audit of the Silver Sage revealed that 76 cents of each dollar raised had made its way back into the program. "The auditors told us this was a great return," he said.
The Black & Red Ball had been a Bandera St. Valentine's Day tradition for 20 years and nobody relished its demise. However, after hearing rumors to that effect, officials with the Bandera Community Foundation approached the Silver Sage and offered to take over the benefit. In exchange for use of the name, graphics and other considerations, the BCF will donate proceeds from the silent auction to the center's Meals on Wheels program, Crawford said. "This fit with our plans, and will allow us to make better use of our time," he said. Other local nonprofits will also benefit from the ball's proceeds.
Now, Silver Sage directors have taken it upon themselves to do private fundraising for the Meals on Wheels program. As Crawford put it, "If I can't raise $2,000, then I'd better get off the board." The current Silver Sage Board of Directors includes not only Crawford, but also President Dietmar Schott, along with Jaren Shaw, Kris Kroll, Cutis Kosub and Vickie DeWolf. One seat remains unfilled.
"This is the strongest board we've had in years. We're attending financial seminars and working to update the bylaws, as well as the organization's mission and vision statements," Crawford said. "We also plan to meet with other nonprofits to discuss how to interact effectively while avoiding duplication of services."
He thanked the Bandera Community Foundation for assuming the mantle of the Black & Red Ball, noting, "After all, they're good at raising money and we're good at feeding people."
The Silver Sage Community Center is located at 803 Buck Creek Boulevard. Telephone is 830-796-4969.