An old saying goes, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” For UCC-related EdenHill Communities, a life plan community in New Braunfels, Texas, the adage has particular meaning, thanks to a new twist on an old idea.
Earlier this year, EdenHill’s second annual “A Night in New Old Braunfels” — a fundraiser that benefits the CHHSM member’s Memory Care Continuum Program — was in trouble. After a successful event in 2019 that included dinner and a live concert featuring country western performer Gary P. Nunn, how could the fundraiser satisfy COVID-19 restrictions and still take place in 2020?
Director of Development Melissa Wilson says some creative thinking and community support are making it possible: on Oct. 15, the event takes place at the Stars and Stripes Drive-In Movie Theater, a 1950s style, old-fashioned drive-in in New Braunfels.
“With the limitations of any fundraiser that is to be held in person, we had to really think outside the box,” says Wilson. “New Braunfels is fortunate to have one of the few drive-in movie theaters that is up and operational. They had already been approved to ‘socially distance’ when showing movies, etc., so having a concert seemed very possible.”
Nunn — whose renown stretches to such venues as the Grand Ol’ Opry — will again headline the event. “Gary P. Nunn is on his retirement tour, and he loves to play for an audience,” Wilson says. “So he was game to make it happen. With the response he had last year, he was on board.”
In addition to securing the space at the drive-in, Wilson also spoke with Rusty Brockman, mayor of New Braunfels and an EdenHill board member. “Everything was a go because it’s outside the city limits, and the pre-marked parking spaces are socially distanced,” Wilson adds. “It was just a perfect combination.”
Although there will be no auctions or other activities, dinner and the concert — and a bit of swag — await attendees. Each car receives a pizza box dinner: a large pizza and 6 pizza rolls, plus soft drinks. General admission ($75) includes dinner, the concert, and a signed concert poster; premium admission ($110) adds an event t-shirt to the swag bag; and a sponsorship ($1,500 and up) adds eight tickets plus eight EdenHill branded lawn chairs so that attendees can sit outside their cars and enjoy the Texas evening during the concert.
A family-friendly event, the evening also will include a mini-donut food trailer and a shaved ice truck. Both vendors are donating back a portion of their sales for the evening.
Organizers hope to raise $40,000 for EdenHill’s skilled memory care neighborhood, “a locked unit keeping the exit-seeking residents safe” that is comprised mainly of Medicaid residents, Wilson says. “There is a large gap between what Medicaid pay per day and the true cost of service. We have supplemented and supported the neighborhood with the monies raised.”
Additionally, funds raised also help purchase new wheelchairs to reduce fall rates and new iPads to help residents communicate with loved ones. “This has made a difference in the morale of the residents and employees,” adds Wilson.
But most of all, Wilson says she’s thankful for all of the community members who are helping to make the event a success.
“With the challenge of COVID-19, I believe we have made the best of a strange and challenging fundraising situation,” she says. “Being able to gather with friends of EdenHill at a safe and responsible distance is a huge accomplishment. People are excited to support our mission and get out and have a fun evening.”