Hannah’s House held their annual Holiday Happenings conference at the Gillespie Conference Center in South Bend on Dec. 9, raising roughly one-third of the charity’s annual funding through the generosity of about 250 attendees.
Hannah’s House is a 501(C)3 organization in northern Indiana that works specifically to give disadvantaged pregnant women the option to choose life by providing housing, meals, items, and much more. In addition to meeting women’s basic needs, Hannah’s House also provides grief, abuse, and other types of counseling.
“First, God transforms,” said Hannah’s House Executive Director Susan Frucci. “Then, he uses us as His hands and feet in a program that is helpful to build women’s life skills, social skills, and the other skills they need to go back into society and be successful.”
The event began with socializing as a variety of hors d’oeuvres rotated around the conference center and people participated in activities such as balloon popping, with each containing gift cards valued at $25 to $100 each. Banners hung with black and white photos of women and children, as well as encouraging signs such as “empower,” “elevate,” and “embrace.”
Chris McLaughlin, an artist, stood near the entrance, painting a sunset over a sparkling ocean, to be auctioned off at the conclusion of the event for almost $3,000. “It was a good opportunity for me to give back,” McLaughlin said. “What they’re doing for young women is amazing.”
Emmy winner and emcee for the evening Joshua Short encouraged attendees to find their assigned seats, as ceremonious champagne was popped, and local retired priest Fr. Barry Engelland gave an invocation.
“Opportunities for personal growth and improvement are given to all while they are at Hannah’s House,” Fr. Engelland said in his prayer. “The generosity of many benefactors is greatly appreciated and needed.” He thanked God for the benefactors and the women who take refuge within Hannah’s House.
Short then introduced keynote speaker Michele Pillar, who spoke on the significance of the work that Hannah’s House does for women.
“Tonight, we’re here to celebrate life, unexpected,” Pillar said. “But here we sit because life is never unexpected for God. I love that Hannah’s House takes a situation where life unexpected walks through the door, and because of you and so many others, those situations that look like a catastrophe will slowly and surely find an answer.”
Next came a live auction, with items such as hotel stays in Italy, golfing opportunities, bourbon tours, and more. In addition, auction items lined the back wall of the conference center on tables for people to bid on throughout the night, including pieces of art, signed items, Notre Dame apparel, and more.
The event concluded with a praise-and-worship song from Pillar, and the showing of a video of a woman who had been helped by Hannah’s House, which allowed her the opportunity to choose life in the face of homelessness.
Holiday Happenings conferences have occurred each year since Hannah’s House’s inception, almost 30 years ago. It was sponsored by Gurley Leep Automotive.
“Hannah’s House’s mission is to help empower disadvantaged, pregnant women to begin a process of life transformation,” Frucci said. “It gives a woman a chance and a choice to turn her life around and start walking in a different direction.”
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