The Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA) Bethesda Chapter will host the 17th Annual “A Night for the Children” Gala on March 21. Gala co-chair Dave McClure, of Veris Group, spoke with WashingtonExec and discussed his involvement with the organization, the event’s networking opportunities and why members of the community should help support the gala’s three beneficiaries.
WashingtonExec: What made you want to take a leadership role in the AFCEA “A Night for the Children” Gala?
Dave McClure: I have been involved with AFCEA/Bethesda for several years in many different capacities – as a member, a monthly breakfast and events speaker, and a member of the Executive Advisory Board. It is perhaps one of the most active industry associations in the D.C. area and has a spectacular track record for technology thought leadership, effective government-industry dialogues and proactive community service.
What is equally impressive is that in the last 16 years, AFCEA/Bethesda has raised more than $6 million for charities. Being asked to serve as Co-Chair of the “Night of the Children” Gala was an unexpected honor. Working on planning the event is exciting particularly when you see the dedication of industry and government volunteers and the emotional gratitude from the charities.
You will hear stories from these charities that tug at your heart. Children and families dealing with the adversity of abuse, infirmity, loss and financial hardship – and how the contributions coming from the event change children’s lives. — Dave McClure
WashingtonExec: What do you think differentiates AFCEA “A Night for the Children” Gala from the other black ties in the area? What should we look forward to?
Dave McClure: Put simply, the event night itself is both inspirational and engaging. We have broadened the reach to three different charities: House of Ruth, Hope for Henry Foundation and Children of Fallen Soldiers Relief Fund. You will hear stories from these charities that tug at your heart. Children and families dealing with the adversity of abuse, infirmity, loss and financial hardship – and how the contributions coming from the event change children’s lives.
It is also unique in that it fosters stronger customer engagement through direct interactions with customers/clients of multiple federal agencies like DOD, VA, HUD, Education, USDA, Justice, FEMA, HHS and others. Our evening also creates networking opportunities with a diverse range of government and industry professionals that work together to improve government performance and services tailored to the charities’ customer needs and experiences.
On top of that – we have created a night filled with fun! Live and silent auctions of spectacular items that have been donated – handmade items, paintings, jewelry, sporting events, dining experiences, weekend getaways, fun vacations! You can even win an evening with Batman and drive around Baltimore in the Batmobile! Or how about entering into a Golf Ball Helicopter drop for a 1 in 200 chance to win $10,000 and give back nearly $10,000 to our charities? And after the gala, all government and industry attendees are invited to attend on-site themed networking lounges — Speak Easy, Coco Palms and March Madness — each with their own selection of entertainment, beverages, desserts and activities.
WashingtonExec: You have a little less than a month until the event. How are your fundraising efforts going?
Dave McClure: We have had spectacular support from a wide range of industry sponsors that are widely-known in our community. Having more than 70 senior government attendees signed up to date helps tremendously. Our special sponsorship packages, table sales and individual ticket sales all require diligent work from our sponsorship committee volunteers. With their tireless efforts, we expect to hit our goal of providing $400,000 to the charities.
WashingtonExec: What do you have to say to organizations that might not have gotten involved yet or who want to get involved in the last minute?
Dave McClure: Because of the overall economic prosperity in this region, we often forget that there are so many unmet needs within our community. That is why it is important for our industries that have benefited so much help to give back. And that means everyone should participate and donate, no matter the amount.
My message is simple: Get involved in one of the premiere charity events in DC! Not only will your generosity help make a real difference in changing children’s lives, you will have a spectacular evening of auctions, celebrity entertainment, dinner, and dancing! Reserved tables, key sponsorship packages, and individual tickets are still available, so please visit our web site and explore remaining sponsorship opportunities. It’s not too late to be a part of one of the D.C. area’s most talked about evenings!
WashingtonExec: Is there anything that you would like our readers to know about the AFCEA or the organizations the gala will benefit?
Dave McClure: Our “Night of the Children” Gala is supporting some remarkable charities.
The House of Ruth is an organization that works with more than 1,000 individuals a year, including 400 children whose ages range from six weeks to 18-years-old. Through federal funds and private contributions, more than 250 children are sheltered at the House of Ruth as they recover from homelessness and abuse.
The Hope for Henry Foundation improves the lives of children with cancer and other serious illnesses by providing carefully chosen gifts and specially-designed programs to entertain and promote comfort, care and recovery. HFH brings smiles and laughter, hope and magic into the lives of these children and their families.
The Children of Fallen Soldiers Relief Fund is a non-profit organization that was founded in October 2003 as a means of providing college grants and financial assistance to the surviving children and spouses of U.S. military service members who have lost their lives in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
Donations of all sizes can make a huge difference. Go to our website to see how your contributions — small and large — provide real services to children with real needs.