The Child Guidance Center of Southern Connecticut’s (CGC) sold- out annual gala netted over $520,000 for children’s mental health services in Lower Fairfield County. Every dollar raised during CGC’s gala will be used to ensure that the community’s highest risk children receive the best possible mental health services, regardless of their families’ ability to pay.

Nearly 300 guests gathered at Wee Burn Beach Club in Rowayton, CT on Saturday, May 6th to enjoy CGC’s Derby themed gala titled A Derby Affair. When attendees, donning their finest Derby chic attire, entered the outdoor cocktail reception area they were astounded by the breathtaking waterfront venue. Guests listened to the sounds of waves lapping on the beach as they perused the selection of auction items and placed their bets on the winning Kentucky Derby horse in the 50/50 raffle. “We raised nearly $60,000 from the silent and live auctions,” stated CGC’s Director of Community Engagement, Jeannine Egdorf, CFRE. “We couldn’t have generated this funding without the tremendous support from the local businesses who graciously donated auction items,” Ms. Egdorf added.

Following the cocktail reception, guests strolled into the dining hall where they watched the sun set over Long Island Sound. Speeches kicked off with an intro from CGC’s Board Chairman, Jay Sandak, and the presentation of CGC’s inaugural Distinguished Public Service Award and a citation from Senator Blumenthal to Viking Global Foundation.

CGC’s President and CEO, Eliot Brenner, PhD thanked guests for attending the gala, and reminded them that their support is crucial for the well-being of the community’s children. “Every year, we must raise one third of our budget from corporations, private foundations and incredibly generous individual donors like you,” stated Dr. Brenner during his speech. “Otherwise, we could not continue to provide these critical services to our community’s most vulnerable children.”

But what inspired the most contributions during the evening was CGC’s Director of Victim Services, Setta Mushegian, MSW. Ms. Mushegian delivered a moving speech about the prevalence of child abuse in our community, detailing the case of a 10 year-old girl who had been sexually abused.  Ms. Mushegian recounted the young girl’s disclosure of abuse, the mother’s sadness and anger in learning of the disclosure, and the outcome which included the girls healing and the imprisonment of the perpetrator. Ms. Mushegian’s impassioned story ignited a sea of contributions during the “paddle raise”– resulting in the agency generating $229,600, with an additional $142,000 match pledged by an anonymous donor — totaling $371,600, a new record for the agency.

“We are incredibly moved by the support the gala created,” said Dr. Brenner. “We not only hope guests had a great time at our event, but left inspired and ready to advocate for children’s mental health for years to come.”

To view photos from A Derby Affair visit our Facebook page or Google Photos .