The stress of two years of pandemic uncertainty and sudden life changes slid away in an emerald green upswing on March 12 when 313 people once again gathered for a Catholic Charities of Central Colorado St. Patrick’s Day Gala.

It was a noisy, fun-filled Irish evening with folks reconnecting to fundraise together at Cheyenne Mountain Resort, bringing in more than $270,000 for the work of the nonprofit.

Nowhere was the lighthearted feeling more evident than during a delightfully crazy auction for a bottle of 10-year old Rip Van Winkle Kentucky Bourbon.

Celebrity auctioneer Kevin Patterson orchestrated a $100 raise-the-paddle bidding, with final paddle raised winning the bid for $100. Bidding was heavy until charismatic new Bishop James Golka raised his paddle, and the next bidders enthusiastically offered to share with him if they won.

Sure enough, lots of laughter as John Marzolf had the lucky paddle and sent the rare bottle over to the bishop’s table. Altogether, Old Rip Van Winkle raised $9,400 for Catholic Charities.

Another favorite during the live auction was the painting “Jesus with the Poor” by artist Devin Montagne. Although he had retired, Montagne produced one more live painting during the gala, raising $10,000.

A diamond cross Robert Coin necklace donated by Broadmoor Jewelry Co. brought a top bid of $7,250.

It was part of a much-needed evening after over two years, “a gloomy time we were all experiencing the same sense of vulnerability,” said Catholic Charities President and CEO Andy Barton. “We’re addressing vulnerability because now we understand. For so many we serve that vulnerability exists in an even larger way.”

During the time of shutdowns and closures, said Barton, the positive was that over that difficult time, “we experienced an outpouring of support. And we are here tonight making this happen.”

The Catholic Charities programs include Marian House Kitchen that served pandemic-safe, socially distanced, pre-plated meals. In Marian House Marketplace, families and clients could shop in the new food pantry as well as meet with case managers and advisers. Rent assistance was available through Housing Case Management and, starting in 2020, “rapid rehousing” going from homelessness into permanent housing. Douglas County has a Family Resource Center and housing support.

“We have been through a hard time, but we came through it,” said Barton.

Serving on the Catholic Charities board are chair Richard Wilhelm, Mary Ellen Benson, Sonia Esquivel, Doug Flinn, Bishop Golka, Jyotsna Khattri-Chettri, Daniel Korleski, Lee Madden, Traci Marques, Andre Mason, Shelley McBride, Pam Nicholson and John Samuelson.

Mortgage Solutions Financial was the gala presenting sponsor.

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