Mentors International held our 25th anniversary gala on November 5, 2015 at the Rail Event Center in Salt Lake City, UT. Over 625 guests attended, including Governor Gary R. Herbert and the First Lady Jeanette Herbert. This annual fundraiser generated more than $325,000 — one of the most successful in our history.

The evening began with an international reception and silent auction. Music, food and displays reflected the countries we serve including the PhilippinesGuatemalaHondurasPeru, and Ghana. Guests had the opportunity to informally chat with various Mentors International experts and learn about our program of mentoring, business training, and small loans.

With over 140 auction items available, there was something for everyone from handcrafted items made in our various countries to local goods and entertainment. The live auction offered domestic and international travel adventures. Everyone had a great time using mobile bidding for the silent auction. Thanks to the auction website, guests could leisurely peruse all of the choices days in advance and begin placing bids.

Lloyd Newell, host of Music and the Spoken Word, was the master of ceremonies. David Olson and Erkelens & Olson Auctioneers commandeered the live auction. Special presentations were given by Mark Petersen (President/CEO), Wendy Bosshardt Zane, Michael Glauser, Danny Gunnell, and Drew Smith.

Upon his retirement from the board, the family of Menlo Smith established the Founder’s Award. Mentors International named Otoniel Manley as the first recipient. The award recognizes one country that accomplished exceptional work in helping to alleviate poverty and promote self-reliance. Otoniel serves as the Executive Director of Mentors Honduras.

In addition, every year Mentors International gives the Humanitarian Award to someone in the non-profit community who has made a difference. Monica Yunus was selected as the 2015 recipient for her work as Co-Founder of Sing for Hope, a non-profit that brings arts outreach programs to communities in need and presents initiatives that make the arts accessible to all. Born in Chittagong, Bangladesh, Ms. Yunus is the daughter of Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus.

Memorable moments throughout the evening included a medley from Les Miserables performed by GENTRI, and “You’ll Never Walk Alone” by Monica Yunus. The audience was clearly moved by the heartfelt performances of all the entertainers.

Throughout the evening, guests could continue bidding on silent auction items. Some of the youth really had fun with it. Personal assistance was made available to any guest without a mobile device (we provided iPads for their use) or those just needing a little help. Things got lively during the live auction where guests tried to outbid one another for a list of prize items including a 7-night stay for 25+ people on a luxury houseboat.

Guests came from all over the country to join in the festivities and celebrate the impact of Mentors International over the last 25 years. As Bonnie K. from Pittsburg, PA said, “the event was spectacular…period!”

Countless hours of work went into planning and executing this great event. We wish to thank all of our sponsors, auction donors, vendors, participants, and volunteers for their individual and collective contributions that made this a night to remember. Most of all, thank you to everyone who attended and supported the gala. In keeping with the Silver Linings theme of the gala, “There’s a silver lining to every cloud that sails about the heavens if we could only see it.” You, our donors, are the silver lining. We all thank you!

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