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Get tickets now for gala

Make sure to get your tickets for the annual Hampton Roads Youth Center Ray of Hope awards gala.

The event, which is the primary fundraiser for the Suffolk-based residential program for troubled youth, is scheduled for Oct. 18 at the Virginia Beach Convention Center.

“The gala provides us much-needed revenue for the youth center to benefit our children and families,” said Laurie Harrison, a spokeswoman for the center.

As in the past, the gala will honor four people who have done volunteer work for charities and non-profits in the area: William Bethea, Bill Foster, Susan Goode and Norman Sher.

“It started out 11 years ago as a way to fund a dream,” Harrison said. “It continues to be our primary fundraiser.”

The Hampton Roads Youth Center sits on 55 acres near Lakeland High School, with a 10,000 square foot building that holds classrooms, offices, and residential wings for nine boys and nine girls, ages 12 to 17. Troubled youth are referred to the program by teachers, counselors and other officials if they are having emotional, social, educational and family problems that are preventing them from being successful in school and family life. The center has counseling and an accredited school on site, and has been listed in The Parent Handbook for Struggling Teens as one of the top 100 programs in the country. There is no set length of stay, because treatment is customized for each individual child and family, and the program is approved as a Medicaid provider.

The gala, which is a black-tie affair, will feature a cocktail reception, seated dinner, honoree presentations, silent and live auctions, and dancing to the music of “Off the Record.”

As always, the gala will highlight the success of many of the program’s graduates. One past student, who has been accepted for study at the Shenandoah Music Conservatory, will play the piano at the gala. A parent of a graduate will be telling the story of his experience with the center, and another graduate will present a poem she wrote about what the Hampton Roads Youth Center means to her.

“This year, we’re really going to take a much more personal approach to it,” Harrison said.

The gala typically brings out about 500 people from throughout the region to support the center, Harrison said. Anyone is welcome to come and tell their friends, she said.

Individual tickets cost $200 each, and several sponsorship opportunities are still available. Tickets and sponsorship information are available by calling 306-0356, or by visiting www.hryc.org.