Jamie Lee Curtis lends voice to clinic’s mission

Jamie Lee Curtis - Photo courtesy Andrew Eccles

Shenandoah Community Health Clinic will be helping its sponsors get into the holiday spirit with a little bit of star power at its third annual Holiday Sparkle Gala & Auction at the Edinburg Mill on Nov. 21.

Actress and writer Jamie Lee Curtis will serve as the first honorary chair for the clinic’s 2015 gala. She’s starred in films like “True Lies,” “A Fish Called Wanda,” “Freaky Friday,” “Trading Places,” and can be seen in TV shows like “The New Girl” and “Scream Queens,” which premiered in September.

Beth Starnes, the clinic’s director of resource development, has been friends with Curtis for 15 years since meeting her at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. Curtis donated some of her books to the gala last year for the auction.

Clinic Executive Director Pam Murphy said she’s seen eager and encouraging feedback so far from donors and community members looking a more formal change of pace.

“It’s really meant to attract people who want to have a nice time, a nice meal, drinks with their friends and have a little bit more of that elegant special event that is very rare in the community,” she said. “This event is very nice because we actually get to see a lot of the folds that support us; we get to see those donors face to face.”

Murphy said 85 percent of the clinic’s funding support comes directly from the community – something that Curtis said truly resounded with her after learning more about the clinic and gala from Starnes.

“She had me at ‘community-based’ because what that means to me is people are helping other people,” Curtis said in an interview. “To me, community-based advocacy is much more…satisfying than corporate advocacy.”

Curtis will welcome gala guests via a pre-recorded video, and a complete autographed collection of all her books will be a raffle item. At the live auction, guests will be able to bid on excursions and events like wine tours and trout fishing trips, and live music performances will come from Clay Arthur and the Mystic Pistols and harpist Allen Dec.

To set the stage for the event and get guests in the holiday spirit, the gala’s Festival of Trees mini-event will again feature the unique holiday styles of tree donors’ decorations. Murphy said the gala has featured trees with a pet theme, newspaper theme and baseball theme.

Starnes said she is expecting from 20 to 30 trees from sponsors this year, which will go to decorate nursing homes after the event instead of being sold. The best tree will win a prize valued at $250.

Starnes said last year’s gala brought out around 175 guests and raised around $40,000 for the clinic. This year, Murphy said the clinic is aiming to raise around $50,000.

Curtis said she encourages community members to support the clinic’s cause financially, with volunteer efforts and through networking.

“People know what it is they’re trying to do in Shenandoah…so I think it’s by nature something that people are interested in, because you’re gathering a group of advocates together to join and link arms and create some advocacy, and that’s just a satisfying way to be a person,” she said.

Through those networking efforts, Murphy said the clinic hopes to maximize volunteer efforts toward organizing the gala in future years, as opposed to staff members running it. As the clinic’s largest fundraising event, it’s an effort that keeps up visibility of the clinic’s mission.

“Between the Festival of Trees and the gala, it does continue to remind people that we are still here, that we are serving low income people who would not be getting care otherwise,” she said.

Curtis said she was happy to lend her voice to a call for community activism on an important service.

“Every human being on earth is touched by illness or need, it’s just the human equation,” she said.

Find out more about the clinic at http://shenclinic.org/.

IF YOU GO: 7 to 10 p.m. Nov. 21 at the Edinburg Mill, 214 S. Main St. Tickets are $75 and can be purchased by calling 540-459-1700, extension 215.

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com