Letter to the Editor: Cause promoted mental health, fun

Published 5:08 pm Friday, September 29, 2023

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“Rod had a truly great time Saturday night, visiting with friends he hadn’t seen in ages and listening to some great country music. The burgers were great and the “cool ones” cool. He even was the top bidder on a few silent auction items, which filled him with joy. He’ll remember that night for a long time to come.” — Sherri E.

The above comment is a fairly typical response from those who attended the Mental Health Awareness Benefit and Concert at the VFW Club in Austin recently. It was a fun event of fellowship, food, music — and toss in a wide variety of chilled beverages, just for good measure.

Silent auction and raffle items were available for bidding throughout the night, and a nice crowd purposefully milled around inside the club and out in the parking lot, listening to the captivating sounds of 507 Country. The evening had a little bit of something for everyone.

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The idea of the event came together last spring when we thought we would like to get people together to rally for a cause that appears to be, at least recently, on a lot of people’s minds — the issue of mental health.

We brainstormed with Sonya Dolan, manager at the VFW, and came up with a plan to host a fundraiser and concert at the club in September. We contacted KAUS radio and the Austin Daily Herald to publicize the event, and we utilized Diamond Ridge Printing to come up with flyers and posters to advertise the fundraiser. The event was also posted on Facebook and social media. Back in May, Sept. 16, seemed a long way off, but the summer went by extremely fast.

Businesses and individuals from Austin, Albert Lea, Hayward, Adams, Spring Valley, Grand Meadow and the surrounding area were approached and asked to contribute to the cause. The response was overwhelming and their generosity was truly amazing. Pizza and Mexican food combos, restaurant gift certificates, auto care and bike shop packages, golf outings, concert tickets, a YMCA membership, jerseys, quilts, Crockpots, a Lotto Ticket Board and a hand-crafted wooden rocking chair were entered into the auction. People had a great time searching through the items and placing their bids.

Because of the outpouring of business support and the people who either attended or embraced the issue of mental health, nearly $15,000 was raised to assist mental health facilities in the Austin area. Those entities who will receive assistance include The Bridge, The Power of Pink and Boys of Tomorrow at Austin Public Schools and a Veteran Mental Health initiative designated by the VFW. Finally, a large portion of the event’s earnings will got to Nexus-Gerard Family Healing in Austin for out-patient and in-patient care of adults and youth.

We couldn’t end this writing without expressing our deep-felt gratitude to those who helped make the benefit a success.

The volunteers at the VFW, together with those who manned the grill and served at the bar were spot on. Eric Johnson at the Herald and John Wright at KAUS radio were tireless supporters of the event. Diamond Ridge staff was professionalism personified. VFW Club Manager, Sonya Dolan, showed her creativity, energy and a whole lot of spunk when it really counted. And, of course, all of those people who attended the event or who supported mental health awareness financially really made everything a huge success. We are truly humbled by your response. Thank you!


Marsha and Don Leathers