Dreams take flight at Interfaith Outreach’s Spread Your Wings Gala

Hundreds attend fundraising event at U.S. Bank Stadium

Guests bid on items at a silent auction April 22 during Interfaith Outreach and Community Partners’ Spread Your Wings Gala at U.S. Bank Stadium. (Sun Sailor staff photo by Jason Jenkins)
Guests bid on items at a silent auction April 22 during Interfaith Outreach and Community Partners’ Spread Your Wings Gala at U.S. Bank Stadium. (Sun Sailor staff photo by Jason Jenkins)

U.S. Bank Stadium, typically the battleground for the Minnesota Vikings, played host to a different kind of battle April 22 as  Interfaith Outreach and Community Partners hosted a fundraising gala to fight poverty.

Interfaith Outreach, a nonprofit organization based in Plymouth, chose the new stadium as the backdrop for Spread Your Wings, a biennial gala that rallies support for addressing the housing, employment, childcare, food and transportation needs of 2,184 families supported by Interfaith Outreach. The nonprofit’s service area includes the communities of Hamel, Long Lake, Medicine Lake, Medina, Minnetonka Beach, Orono, Plymouth and Wayzata.

More than 400 community leaders and supporters attended the event, which raised $415,000 toward helping those in need meet basic needs and move toward stability. This year’s gala topped the $380,000 raised in 2015.

FOX 9 News Chief Meteorologist Ian Leonard was the guest master of ceremonies for the evening as guests ate dinner before taking part in a live auction, which included items like tickets to “Hamilton” on Broadway in New York City and a private whiskey tasting event at McCormick’s Pub & Restaurant in Wayzata.

Auctioneer Katie Imholte Gabriel takes bids from guests attending Interfaith Outreach and Community Partners’ Spread Your Wings Gala. (Sun Sailor staff photo by Jason Jenkins)
Auctioneer Katie Imholte Gabriel takes bids from guests attending Interfaith Outreach and Community Partners’ Spread Your Wings Gala. (Sun Sailor staff photo by Jason Jenkins)

Guests also contributed to the organization’s Neighborhood Program, which provides on-site family, children and senior services in nine multi-unit apartment neighborhoods. The programs and activities focus on building neighborhoods, promoting school success for students and providing neighborhood residents with strong links to resources in the community.

LaDonna Hoy, executive director and founder of Interfaith Outreach, said to the hundreds of guests in attendance that it’s hard to believe how far Interfaith Outreach has come since its humble beginnings.

“I can tell you for sure that 38 years ago when a small band of believers huddled together on rickety chairs in multiple church basements to envision a way to level the playing field for struggling families and kids of our community, never did we imagine that one day we’d be huddling at U.S. Stadium. … This is beyond awesome. You are beyond awesome. Our community is beyond awesome,” Hoy said.

LaDonna Hoy, executive director and founder of Interfaith Outreach, speaks to a crowd of more than 400 community leaders and supporters attending the organization’s Spread Your Wings Gala at U.S. Bank Stadium in downtown Minneapolis. (Sun Sailor staff photo by Jason Jenkins)
LaDonna Hoy, executive director and founder of Interfaith Outreach, speaks to a crowd of more than 400 community leaders and supporters attending the organization’s Spread Your Wings Gala at U.S. Bank Stadium in downtown Minneapolis. (Sun Sailor staff photo by Jason Jenkins)

Also addressing the crowd was Nicole Mayo, who told her story of how she became a part of the Interfaith Outreach community more than 10 years ago. As a single mom, Mayo and her daughter Kayla moved from Chicago to start a new life, she said, and Interfaith Outreach provided a case manager who connected her with child care assistance, which helped to enroll her daughter in a Home Base childcare program with Wayzata Public Schools. Mayo said her daughter also took part in Interfaith Outreach’s Homework Club and summer camp program.

Mayo said Interfaith Outreach also helped her through services like Project Success, a two-year transitional housing program for families with children. She said that once she had stable housing, she was able to pursue a higher education through Wayzata Community Education before enrolling in college courses in Minneapolis. Mayo earned an associate’s degree and a bachelor’s degree before moving out of the state to pursue a master’s degree in educational leadership and later moving back to Plymouth. Today, Mayo works as a student services coordinator.

Nicole Mayo, a Plymouth resident, tells her story of how Interfaith Outreach and Community Partners helped provide support for her and her daughter. (Sun Sailor staff photo by Jason Jenkins)
Nicole Mayo, a Plymouth resident, tells her story of how Interfaith Outreach and Community Partners helped provide support for her and her daughter. (Sun Sailor staff photo by Jason Jenkins)

“I love my work,” she said. “I’m passionate about the power of education because I know the difference it has made for me and is also making for my daughter.”

Mayo said her daughter will graduate from high school next spring and has plans to attend college.

“If I had that opportunity to talk with someone in the position that I once found myself in, I would say to them, ‘Know that your current situation is not your final destination. … Look for positive community connections, build a support system. Work really hard and be patient because it’s happened. It’s happening right now.’”

To learn more about Interfaith Outreach, visit iocp.org.

Contact Jason Jenkins at [email protected]