Dancing, Socializing, Eating, All for a Great Cause

dance sccs
South County Community Services staff and volunteers, put the word community in their Dance Across the Decades signature event each year. From left to right: Jackie Sirotti, Tim Delaney, Lorna Landrum, Danna Downing, Madison Branch, and Amanda Fields. The two women on the right are holding on to the quilt made by Jennifer Appell as a donation to the silent auction to be held on April 25 at St. Martin of Tours Church.

By Sue Moore

“We needed a signature event to highlight the services of South County Community Services (SCCS), raise money for the agency and have a good time doing it,” said Danna Downing, the agency’s executive director.

Dance Across the Decades is in its second year as a money-raising event. It promises to be even bigger and better in 2015, Downing said. Success is critically important, following a year in which funding was cut nearly in half.

To publicize the April 25 event, Downing appeared at nearly every scheduled meeting of clubs and organizations in the greater Vicksburg community during last month. This has also allowed her to spread the word about the need in south Kalamazoo County for the services SCCS provides.

The goal of the dance and accompanying silent auction is to raise $10,000. “Many of the ingredients for this fun way of getting people energized are being donated. This makes the stated promise of 75 percent of the proceeds going right to the bottom line of SCCS a reality,” Downing said.

The food is being prepared by Robin Maple and Marian Steffens, both of whom are donating their time. The “signature drinks,” a special feature, are being provided by an anonymous donor. The DJ play list has been selected by the music man, Jim Shaw, and will be presented by DJ Jimmy Lawless from Debiak Entertainment. The silent auction items are coming in strong and should be in great demand, Downing said. The ticket prices are $65 per couple or $35 single before April 15, which gives the volunteers a chance to plan accordingly.

The agency’s needs became even greater when United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region, was forced to cut back support funding in 2014 by $40,000–48 percent of the SCCS overall budget, Downing said. Since then, the budget deficit has been whittled down by moving to space in the Marketplace on Kalamazoo Avenue in Vicksburg. In addition, staff has moved to a four-day work week. No services have been cut, Downing emphasized.

In fact, the food pantry has enjoyed a hefty growth with more food being donated and availability of a larger, more accessible display area with the demand for food assistance growing every day.

The agency represents the first line of help and referral for any person or family suffering from a financial hardship. “It’s important that members of the community know what services we have available so when they see a neighbor in trouble, they can send them here to get help,” Downing said. Through the dance and other outreach, the services will remain in the public eye, she believes. “There are lots of good-hearted people in the community. We had a gift just the other day when a mother who lost her son at a young age, came in to make a large donation in his name–the very day our newsletter arrived in her mailbox.

“This is not the same agency that it was two years ago. Our job is to connect individuals with the many resources available locally and across Kalamazoo County. If SCCS wasn’t here, who knows what would happen to those walking in our door? Now the agency is asking the heart of the community to come have fun and to help make sure the doors remain open to help friends and neighbors in times of need.” Those wishing to make reservations should call 649-2901.

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