NEWPORT NEWS, Va. -- Each year, the Peninsula Rescue Mission, a rescue mission that shelters homeless men, relied on an annual banquet to raise needed funds. It was an in-person banquet that will not happen this year because of COVID-19.
"Because many of our donors are older, they are uncomfortable coming out,” Alan DeFriese, the CEO of the Peninsula Rescue Mission, said. “The event can have between 500 - 700 people."
The banquet, which will be virtual for the first time, is called “1,000 Nights of Shelter.” DeFriese said he hopes the banquet raises the roughly $50,000 past banquets have normally raised to sustain its expensive operations.
"We provide two meals a day. They do sleep in a heated or air-conditioned facility,” DeFriese explained. “They have access to showers with hot water, the staff also that it takes and the maintenance of the building."
He added the shelter will need help even more as the weather gets colder. The winter outlook this year is uncertain, DeFriese said.
"We just don't know,” DeFriese said. “We're in touch with a number of rescue missions across the country, and already up north the cold weather is causing the homeless to begin to come inside."
The virtual event will be held inside PRM’s Chapel. The hosts will be on the stage. There will be music, information of the operation, as well as testimonials from those who were sheltered there.
"So, we still hope to get that message and gratitude to our donors,” DeFriese said, “even though they're not in the room with us."
You can be a part of the virtual banquet from your home. All donations will be matched by Service Master Clean up to $20,000.
"We are definitely counting on this event to see us through the winter months ahead,” DeFriese said.
The virtual banquet is Friday, Oct. 30 at 7:45 p.m. The event will be broadcast on the Peninsula Rescue Mission’s website, which is where you can find more information.