Recap of NESS’s 7th Annual Gala

NESS held its 7th Annual Benefit Gala on Saturday, November 7, at the Velvet Mill. The gala’s theme, “Building Brighter Futures,” highlighted NESS’s 11-year history of providing ocean adventures to students, many of whom come from underserved communities in cities such as New London, Hartford, and Providence.

Approximately 240 people attended the event to help raise money for NESS’s programs and scholarships. “The evening was sophisticated, fun, and for a worthy cause. It was wonderful to see a great deal of support for NESS,” said Owen McDonald, Editor-in-Chief of COASTAL Connecticut Magazine.

A special segment of the evening included raising money for scholarships to provide sailing, marine science, and ocean adventure programs to PreK-16 students. NESS president Spike Lobdell announced that the organization will have served more than 4,700 students in 2015 and approximately half of those (56%) receive some sort of financial aid.

NESS Director of Operations Ben Yanni requested 12 new powerboat Honda engines and was able to successfully raise funds to purchase two large 75 HP engines, four mid-range 20HP engines, and six 9.9HP small engines. The Gala is a critical event for NESS’s success as it raises 15% of their total operating budget.

NESS also recognized two Volunteers of the Year: Holly Burt of Princeton, NJ, and Dave Menzies of Mystic, CT, for their outstanding service to NESS. Paqui Motyl, urgent care medical director at Backus Hospital, was the winner of NESS’s raffle for a 1967 MGB-GT. NBC Connecticut morning anchor, Todd Piro, hosted the event.