If you recognized a 1990s restaurant commercial jingle in our title, you’d be correct, but we put our own Pecometh spin on it to describe what God brought together this past Sunday.
On October 5, Pecometh Camp & Retreat Ministries held its 3rd Annual Auction Dinner at the beautiful Riverview Retreat Center (RRC). It’s the primary fundraiser for us, and all the money raised goes to support our Campership and Capital Improvement Funds.
Last year, over $11,000 came in, thanks to our generous donors. This year, we raised a little more - just over $11,800! These funds go to help ensure that we are able to serve every child that comes through our doors at summer camp, and it also goes towards our summer camp facilities, making sure that they remain attractive, functional and well-maintained.
This event has morphed to what it is today from many other similar events in the past. It started out as a Live Quilt Auction and Silent Auction, and was held on Pecometh Day every April. Prior to its current location at the RRC (now in its 4th year), the event was originally held in the Dining Hall.
When the RRC opened, we wanted to give the auction more flair, so dinner was added. For the past three years, we have been blessed to have a great dinner, as well as a live and silent auction…all going to help Pecometh continue to provide fun, love, and learning to thousands of children in our area.
This year, the flair was in full swing. According to Dana Squares, Pecometh Development Coordinator and Auction Coordinator, “we had 93 seated and we were set up for 110.” My wife Tracie and I were also in attendance at the event, and we both had a great time.
The afternoon began with the silent auction at 3pm, and this attracted a lot of foot traffic. Hors D’oeuvres were served at this time while many were placing their bids. Around 3:45pm, Executive Director Jack Shitama led a small group around the RRC on an informative, guided tour.
Then at 4:30, Jack came in to address those who were placing some last-minute bids, and he gave a final countdown to the closing of the silent auction.
The room suddenly got a bit noisier, as those in the room hastily wrote down a final amount of the items they wanted. (Incidentally, Tracie and I bid on Delmarva Shorebirds Tickets and an autographed baseball signed by Jim Palmer. We’re glad we won both.)
Dinner was then served at approximately 4:15, and all those there dined on a wonderful meal prepared by Chef Chris Shultz and his culinary team.
After a blessing by Pecometh Board of Directors President Ray Yarnall, the meal began with greens with walnuts, topped off with gorgonzola and vinaigrette, followed by a second course of butternut squash soup. Then, it was time for roast prime rib, teamed with crab mac and cheese and green beans. To top it all off, a delectable warm apple crisp was served with vanilla ice cream.
Occasionally, during the dinner, Jack provided sports updates, letting us know the latest on the Orioles-Tigers game. This was much appreciated by many in the crowd, including me.
Tracie and I had great conversation with those seated with us at dinner.
We met Larry and Joanne Fortner, who, I found out earlier on the tour, have stayed in our lodges quite frequently over the past few weeks as Guest Hosts. They attend Asbury UMC in New Castle, DE, and they shared with me why they love Pecometh. “We love talking with people and meeting the people here. There’s always such a great staff here, too.”
Next to them were Merle Ciesielski and her friend, Reese Harding. Merle, who also attends Asbury UMC with Larry and Joanne, invited Reese to the event. Merle shared with me her story. “My boys came to camp here about 30 years ago. I’m a church camp lover from way back.” On a side note, I found out that Reese, who hails originally from Cambridge, MD, has a Baptist background. I then informed him that I attended a Baptist church during my days at Towson in college. He thought that was great, and we shared a fistbump.
Making memories across denominations at a Pecometh auction dinner...priceless.
In the days and weeks leading up to the auction, we asked for items to be donated for the auctions, as well sponsors for the event. Many came through for us, and we’re so glad they did. Rick and Mary Browne were Sponsors, and Hockessin UMC in Hockessin, DE, graciously came through as a Table Sponsor.
We were also very grateful to those who donated, and for the variety of donations they supplied. These included, but were not limited to, theatre tickets from Clear Space Theatre Company in Rehoboth Beach, DE, some dirt from Memorial Stadium, and a Ruth Oatman original fiber art quilted wall hanging. Also, several other limited edition, signed, framed prints, three fishing trips from various charter boat companies, three different hunting trips and many more items, were up for auction.
The live auction itself started at approximately at 5:15, and was orchestrated by our wonderful auctioneer, Bill Middleton. The bidding was fast, furious and full of excitement. Some of the most highly prized items were a quilt by M.L. Kaczka, a Peter Sculthorpe limited edition print donated by Jennings and Lisa Hastings, an Amish quilt donated by Bruce and Carolyn Peterson, and both Ruth Oatman items--a custom clergy stole and her 2014 Pecometh Auction masterpiece.
It truly was a fantastic day, and we are so very thankful for those who donated, both monetarily and with various items. Also, our volunteers and staff here were invaluable in all their help, and a special thank you is certainly due to our “ringleader” of this event, Dana Squares. Her planning and hard work made this event go off without one single hitch.We are incredibly blessed and amazed by what God continues to do at events such as this one. Thank you so much for your continued support, and we look forward to next year’s event. But let’s give Dana Squares a little vacation before she starts planning for next year.