A local fundraiser received national recognition earlier this month.

Boys and Girls Club of Van Buren’s inaugural Great Futures Gala, which was held in September 2014, was honored with a marketing and communications award from the Boys and Girls Club of America.

Representatives from BGCVB were presented with the award at the organization’s national conference in Chicago May 15. Past chief volunteer officer Jim Petty and marketing consultant Brittany Ransom attended the special luncheon which included clubs from across the country, as well as National BGCA President Jim Clark.

The Bronze MAC Award was in the special event category in recognition of the Van Buren club’s first-ever gala, which helped raise both dollars and awareness for the organization.

The "Fiesta for the Future" themed evening was held at the home of Jeremy and Stephanie Riffle, located in Van Buren’s Scott Farm. The outdoor celebration included a Latin-inspired dinner, a premier live auction and Salsa dance performances by professional instructor, Barbie Bell Nolte. The gala generated more than $13,000 for the club.

Organizers chose the theme, "Fiesta for the Future," which coincided with the overarching focus and BGCVB mission of helping ensure that "Great Futures Start Here" at the club, Ransom said.

She said organizers wanted guests to understand that by being a part of the gala, they were supporting the boys and girls club in that endeavor.

"It was such an honor to have our local event recognized on the national level," Ransom said. "We were all so pleased with the gala’s success last year and this just makes it even more meaningful."

Building on the momentum from the previous year’s achievement, the club announced plans for this year’s event.

The Boys and Girls Club of Van Buren will present the second annual "Great Futures Gala" Saturday, Oct. 17.

"The ‘Blue Door Masquerade’ theme ties in both with our club’s mission as well as adds a fun, festive element to the gala,"Ransom said. "The night will include dinner, auctions, live entertainment and more. We will also use this as an opportunity to share about what takes place inside our club doors and how our staff and volunteers are working to make a positive impact on members every day."

Tickets will go on sale for the gala over the summer. A number of sponsorship opportunities also will be available, ranging from table sponsors to an overall presenting partner.

"Last year’s gala was attended by more than 200 community leaders and supporters," Ransom said. "This a prime opportunity to market your business or organization and support the club in the process."

All proceeds from the gala will benefit the Boys and Girls Club of Van Buren, whose mission is "to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens."

The club offers after school, summer and sports programs, averaging more than 220 students on a daily basis. BGCVB also serves nutritious meals and snacks each day and sponsors a number of self-esteem and academic programs designed to build confidence and instill values in members, such as SMART Girls and Passport to Manhood.

Boys and Girls Club of Van Buren is a community partner of the United Way of Fort Smith Area.

For more information about the event, contact the club at (479) 474-9401 or visit BGCVB’s website, www.bgcofvb.org.