In early January, I wrote a blog about the Seattle Hotel Association’s 19th annual “Evening of Hope Gala” presented by Delta Air Lines. Held at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel in Seattle, the event helped to raise $500,000 for Mary’s Place—an organization that offers employment, housing and medical resources for homeless women. More than 300 people attended the gala, and they all got into the event’s theme: Venetian Masquerade Ball.

This year, organizers approached the raise the paddle portion of the evening in a unique and compelling way. Right before the raise the paddle, the entire ballroom went dark, save for a spotlight on the stage and the candlelight from the décor. Six individuals—women and a boy—walked on stage with masks covering their faces. One by one they approached the microphone. Dropping their masks, they told their own stories of homelessness and how Mary’s Place assisted them. At the end of the presentations, the audience gave the six, now unmasked, presenters a standing ovation. The executive director of Mary’s Place then took the stage and told the guests about the programs of Mary’s Place and what their dollars go to support. Following her presentation, the auctioneer took the stage for the raise the paddle and organizers exceeded their donations from the previous year.

What a wonderful way to highlight the services of an event’s beneficiary and help donors see where their dollars are going! Congratulations to the organizers for a successful event!



Each July, Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Washington, transforms into the weeklong Oneweek. The event is an opportunity for Microsoft employees to come together to learn about new products and services, and to bring their own ideas to life through presentations and activities. The week culminates with a keynote speech on the company’s bold ambitions and opportunities.