United Christian Ministries braces for fall fundraiser

Abbey Stirgwolt

In spite of past surprises, UCM expecting another success with upcoming Fall fundraiser

United Christian Ministries’ Megan Vogias never struggles to think of a memorable fall fundraiser.

First, there was the time someone passed a bread basket over a candle and the basket burst into flames.

And then, of course, was the time the oven’s pilot light went out just hours before the dinner was to be served. It took several people sticking their heads into the oven, holding a match and trying to light it before it started working.

But regardless of what unexpected events color UCM’s annual fall fundraising dinner, Vogias and her fellow UCM members have learned to concentrate on what’s really important: showing God’s love.

The rest, according to Vogias, is just details.

“In the big picture, it’s not about the little things,” Vogias said.

Although dinner isn’t served until Oct. 21, planning has been underway for months. And in spite of a couple hang-ups, like a slight shortage of volunteers, things have been going smoothly so far this year.

Vogias, who planned the dinner for her fifth consecutive year, said mishaps only help make memories for the future and remind everyone to get their priorities in the right place.

“You step up to the challenge – that’s the kind of thing you do,” Vogias said.

UCM director Lauren Odell-Scott recalled one dinner when guests complained about the size of the baked potatoes.

“All the guests complained that the potatoes were too big; we had the biggest potatoes you’d ever seen,” she said. “Many guests had such minuscule appetites they insisted we get smaller baked potatoes in the future.”

Odell-Scott has a seemingly simple coping strategy: “Just relax, take a deep breath and trust in God. Our UCM dinners are proof of the existence of God because we could not truly do this ourselves,” she said.

UCM has hosted the fundraising dinner for more than 20 years. Vogias said typical attendance is between 75 and 150 local church members, UCM alumni, students, staff and community members.

“The community gets to see what incredible things UCM is doing in students’ lives,” Vogias said. “Sometimes that gets lost in the shuffle with all the PR that happens.”

In spite of the glitches that sometimes occur, Odell-Scott and Vogias agree that overcoming them is what makes the dinners memorable and worthwhile.

Maybe a few obstacles are necessary for brief reality checks, after all.

“God is there even when we’re all stressed trying to do our best,” Odell-Scott said. “When it’s all over we can laugh about it.”

Anyone interested in attending the UCM’s dinner must purchase a ticket by Monday. Tickets cost $15. For more information contact the UCM office at (330) 673-5687.

Contact religion reporter Abbey Stirgwolt at [email protected].