Photo by Drew Stevens
Guests line up to make their plates for the dinner portion of the Lovers for Learning Gala.
Eastern New Mexico University group ENMU Women hosted its first community-wide Lovers for Learning Gala, which raised twice as much as last year’s fundraiser, said event coordinator Jessica Small.
ENMU Women held the event on Feb. 2 in the Campus Union Building Ballroom.
ENMU Women’s mission statement is to “foster an alert spirit of service, good fellowship, and understanding” within itself and with ENMU and the surrounding community. The group has awarded about $40,000 since they began awarding scholarships in 1982 with $16,000 awarded in the last five years. One to two students are chosen annually by a committee for the scholarships, but organization members hope to be able to award more funds to more individuals as resources increase, according to Beth Birky, president of ENMU Women. The organization plans to award the scholarship later this spring.
“It’s a great way to get involved in the community,” said Small, adding that about 70 people attended the gala to support the women’s scholarship, including university President Jeff Elwell.
The event, which included dinner and dancing, raised $3,800 via silent auction and a live dessert auction, where some items sold for over $250. The event is the ENMU Women’s primary method of fundraising for scholarships awarded to women returning to college. This year’s event was the first to be open to the community.
The event kicked off with dinner and announcements, followed by the live auction. After the silent auction winners were announced, guests were invited to dance to music provided by the ENMU Jazz Band. Students, faculty, and community members provided homemade baked goods for the auction, which included a Boston cream pie, an orange marmalade cake, and platters of cookies and brownies.
Birky said her favorite part about hosting events like the gala is seeing people have a good time. She also said she was excited to have a professional auctioneer auction off the cakes.
The group was created as “Faculty Dames” and has changed its name several times since it began in 1940. It has been known as “ENMU Women” since 1990.
The scholarship is available to any female student re-entering college and attending ENMU. They can apply through the ENMU Foundation. ENMU Women membership is open to any woman associated with ENMU in some way.