By: Sam Antenucci
The enticing aroma of gourmet food and the sounds of laughter and live music swirled about the Tork Club at Lincoln Financial Field as I wandered through a sea of red ballgowns and black tuxedos. Even though this year marked my third Red Ball, I’m always amazed at what the gala has to offer.
Like previous Red Balls, this one had food purveyors from around the city offering a tantalizing variety of culinary specialties from their restaurants. Games were set up at various locations, and live bands played from early in the evening till the midnight hour. But there was something different at this year’s event, a reminder of why everyone was there. Set up in the center of the venue was a display that drew everyone’s attention: A living room scarred by a home fire.
In the fun and excitement of Red Ball, it’s easy to overlook what the event is all about. The Red Cross organizes this annual gala as a massive fundraiser to support the Red Cross House. While most people are familiar with Red Cross blood services, it’s only after an emergency—such as a home fire or an extreme weather event—that others learn of the Red Cross’s many other humanitarian services. Unique to Philadelphia, the Red Cross House is the only one in the country that provides a safe haven for people who have lost their homes in a fire.
Later in the evening, Southeastern Pennsylvania Red Cross CEO Guy Triano hopped up on the blackened living room platform to speak to the crowd about how much the Red Cross House has impacted the Philadelphia community. This short-term recovery center can provide private rooms, three meals a day, and a caseworker to help family members get back on their feet.
Without the Red Cross House, many home fire victims would be left homeless and sleeping in shelters for months at a time. Instead, residents at the Red Cross House stay an average of 21 days at the center, and with the support and resources available, families can go back to normal living within the three weeks they spend at the center.
While the night was an amazing opportunity to share food, memories, and lots of dances with folks from all over the metro area, the Red Cross couldn’t keep the Red Cross House going if it weren’t for all the wonderful people, businesses, and restaurants that donated to the gala’s cause, And although Red Ball has ended, you can still uphold the Red Cross House’s mission by supporting your local chapter—and planning to attend next year’s gala!