Guests hit the dance floor at Bella Vita Banquet Hall during last week’s Twin Lakes charity gala (Earlene Frederick/The Report).

Bella Vita hosts for second straight year

By Jason Arndt
Editor

While some came dressed as Southern Belles, others arrived with horse racing costumes, but everyone made contributions at the 19th annual Twin Lakes Charity Gala and Auction at Bella Vita Banquets in New Munster on Nov. 3.

The Twin Lakes Area Chamber and Business Association organized the Kentucky Derby themed event that brought in nearly 100 residents and business leaders to the fundraiser.

Chamber Executive Director Marilyn Trongeau said proceeds from the fundraiser go to Twin Lakes Area Charity Corp, a nonprofit organization with a mission to bolster community resources, including educational opportunities.

“The proceeds are going into the Twin Lakes Area Charity Corp,” she said. “Their focus is scholarships, education, community projects and the decision is made by the trustees.”

Although the nonprofit organization has not determined where to donate proceeds from the 2017 event, pending trustee approval, in previous years Twin Lakes Charity Corp has distributed character-building books to Randall and Lakewood Schools.

In 2016, when Twin Lakes Area Charity Corp was in its second year, the organization offered scholarships to area students.

“We did two $500 scholarships last year,” she said, adding the nonprofit group is working to establish a firm endowment, and in turn, offer more opportunities in the future.

Trongeau said the event would not have been possible without the guests, auction donors and bidders, a dedicated committee and a core of volunteers.

There were more than 100 silent auction items and more than a dozen live auction items up for bidding.
Like last year, the event was sponsored by Thelen Sand and Gravel.

Bella Vita returns
The Twin Lakes Area Chamber and Business Association selected Bella Vita to host for the second straight, noting continuous improvements at the facility, Trongeau said.

Bella Vita, owned by Brian Boeckenstedt, offers the chamber a unique venue.

“Brian has made a lot of improvements,” said Trongeau, adding the venue is spacious. “We don’t have many places that are big enough in the area.”

Additionally, Trongeau credited Heather Boeckenstedt, who she said “makes wonderful food.”

Brian Boeckenstedt, meanwhile, is fortunate to open his venue to community business leaders and residents.

“It feels great to get all of the business owners and the people from the area to come back in and enjoy the night and enjoy the food,” he said. “Everyone seems like they are having a great time.”

Like previous ventures, hosting the event reiterates his mission to help the community, like the recent flood relief benefit.

“We have done so many fundraisers in trying to help out the community, for the flood victims, it is nice to be able to have a place that we can offer to the area,” he said.

To recognize the Kentucky Derby theme, prizes were awarded to best costumes, from first to third place.

Winning the costume contest for their “Hoof Hearted” ensemble was Bob and Kami Koehler.

Finishing second was Liz Swartz, Afton Al-Jehani and Shea Malone for “The Mint Juleps” combination, and coming in third was Ashley and Eric Fauth, who titled their attire “The Horse and Better.”

As the 2017 event draws to a close, the Twin Lakes Area Chamber and Business Association already has plans in 2018, when they unveil a “Pirates of the Caribbean” themed event.

 
 

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