For one evening, approximately 450 people dined and danced the night away as though they took to the streets of Paris.
The ornate celebration modeled after iconic imagery was Shorewood HUGS’ eighth annual Chocolat Ball Saturday, Feb. 4 at Clarion Hotel Joliet in Joliet.
The main highlights for the evening included a silent auction, dancing and a raffle.
Shorewood HUGS board member and past president Molly Babyak said the annual fundraiser is designed to please.
“Every year, we have a new theme,” she said. “This year is the ‘Streets of Paris.’ It’s based on chocolate. This year, we have 12 chocolate stations... For the first time ever, we’re having a painter at the event. She will be painting side table while the event is going.”
Money raised throughout the annual event helps Shorewood HUGS to fulfill wishes.
“Since 2010, we have fulfilled approximately 530 wishes,” Babyak said. “Those are made possible thanks to the Chocolate Ball.”
Shorewood HUGS typically grants wishes in the amount of $500 to those in need, disabled or those deserving of some assistance within a 20-mile radius of Shorewood.
Babyak said past wishes have included anything from groceries and gift cards to a swing set and a weekend getaway.
“We have a Wishes Committee,” she said. “We do as much as we can to grant wishes.”
Pat Marcum, of Joliet, was named one of this year’s Shorewood HUGS wish recipients on behalf of her family. She said it means a lot knowing they were selected, and is relieved to know her husband, Glen’s, community involvement will not be forgotten.
Glen Marcum died on November 1, 2016, at which time he was battling pancreatic cancer. Around that time, he served as board president to the Joliet Park Board of Commissioners.
“He really was about doing for everybody else,” Marcum said. “It’s very humbling to be recognized. We were facing a lot of travel back and forth, which is why our friends did this. They helped cover the costs of things that weren’t covered by insurance.”
Marcum said she never imagined they’d become recipients of a Shorewood HUGS wish.
“You always think there’s somebody else who should’ve got it more than you—you look at those pictures, you look at those people,” she said. “It’s like, ‘we were blessed that people thought so much of him to do this for him’… More so than even the monetary gift, (it’s wonderful seeing) the recognition of what he’s meant to so many people in the community.”
Marcum said her children appear to be coping well with the loss.
“We had time to say our goodbyes,” she said. “He had time to talk to every one of them. He talked to each one of them about something different he wanted them to do and do for me. We were lucky in that respect that nothing was left unsaid. Everybody doesn’t get that.”
Babyak said it helps that people in the community recognize the work of Shorewood HUGS.
“It does show that our organization helps the family,” she said. “It helps our supporters to know we really are helping people. It helps our supporters to know their support is being put in the right place.”
But that’s not always the case when people give back to larger organizations, Babyak said.
“When you a write a check to a large organization, you don’t always know where the money goes,” she said. “We’re affecting your neighbor, your co-worker and people who are in need.”
The co-chairs for this year’s fundraiser included Susan Underwood, Jackie O’Hara and Heidi Serena.
The eighth annual Chocolat Ball was sponsored in part by Heartland Bank, D’Arcy Automotive and Turk Furniture.