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TLC banquet a major success

Claire Culwell was the keynote speaker at the TLC of Hastings annual banquet last weekend. (Submitted photos)1 / 2
A live ultrasound was done at the banquet, showing a baby in the first trimester.2 / 2

Each year, TLC of Hastings hosts a banquet fundraiser. It's a chance to show appreciation and thanks to all those who support the organization and a time to highlight some of the good they do for people in the community.

This year's banquet was held this past weekend, Feb. 18, and it was as successful as ever, with 388 people in attendance.

"This year was remarkable," said Andrea Kullmann, executive director of TLC of Hastings. "We had a full house, our biggest crowd."

This year's event took a new approach. In the past, the banquet was offered with a registration fee. This year, the organization didn't charge at all to attend. Instead, sponsorships were collected ahead of time.

The idea to not charge came up a couple years ago, Kullmann explained. Some of their supporters would opt out of the banquet and instead bring a donation directly to the center, in order to make sure their full donation goes to the ministry.

"We appreciate that, and yet our heart breaks because it's also a night to celebrate and thank (them)," Kullmann said. "... We really want you to be there and be part of it."

 The result was impressive. Kullmann said that their preliminary results indicate this year's event raised just over $66,000 before expenses, and expenses were under $10,000. All event expenses were covered by sponsorships, Kullmann said, so donations at the banquet all go to the ministry. It's the largest response to a banquet fundraiser that TLC of Hastings has ever gotten, she said.

The banquet is TLC of Hastings' major fundraiser for the year. The money raised through it carries the nonprofit for much of the fiscal year, covering expenses such as lighting and heat for the building, four part time staff, training and whatever else comes up.

It also allows TLC of Hastings, a faith-based organization, to choose not to apply for any government funding.

"We just haven't had a need to apply for those grants," Kullmann said, "... and yet we're able to take care of all the needs that we run across."

This year's speaker was Claire Culwell, from Austin, Texas. Culwell brought an amazing story, Kullmann said, one of adoption, abortion and parenting. Culwell is a survivor of a twin abortion; while her twin sibling died, she lived. Her speech wasn't negative, though, Kullmann said. Instead, it was powerful.

Another new feature at this year's banquet was a live ultrasound. A former TLC of Hastings mentor volunteered to have an ultrasound with her expected baby done right there at the banquet.

"Most people have never even seen an ultrasound," Kullmann said. "And just to be able to get a little glimpse inside that womb ... just to be able to show them a little bit of what we get to see in our office ... it's just beautiful."

Will Cossairt, who is the executive director of all Total LifeCare Center affiliates, served as the emcee for the event.