Main Street News

Housatonic Youth Service Bureau Hosts Second Annual Gratitude Gala

By Published On: April 26th, 2024

The Housatonic Youth Service Bureau (HYSB) is hosting its second annual Gratitude Gala on Saturday, April 27 from 5-10pm, celebrating and honoring Lisa Carter, the outgoing Superintendent of Schools for Region One.

The Gratitude Gala is a fundraising dinner and auction to benefit HYSB and its programs. This year’s gala will take place at the Colonial Theatre in North Canaan, CT. 

“We’re delighted to honor the transformative leadership of Lisa Carter and her unwavering support of HYSB,” said Kelly Parker, executive director of HYSB. “From her dedicated service as a board member to her exceptional leadership as superintendent, Lisa has been instrumental in advancing our mission and ensuring that our vital services continue to reach those in need.”

At the gala 

When guests first arrive at the Colonial Theatre, they can look forward to cocktail hour, which will take place in the main theater space on the ground floor. During cocktail hour, appetizers will be prepared and served by Theresa Freund of Freund’s Farm Catering and music will be provided by Ram Miles’ Crownback Funk Band. Also during cocktail hour is the silent auction, in which guests can bid on items provided by a variety of local businesses. 

The event is 1920s Jazz Age-themed in an ode to the Colonial Theatre celebrating their 100th anniversary this past year. After cocktail hour, guests will move upstairs to the ballroom space for dinner – also provided by Freund’s Farm Catering – and a live auction hosted by Luke Miller of Real NY Tours. Following this, music will be provided by the Steve Dunn Band for dancing and there will be a host of fun activities including games and photobooths. 

Both the silent and live auctions will feature a variety of items donated by businesses including Catamount Ski, English Garden Grown, Millbrook Vineyards, Blue Studio Dance, Ski Haus, and the Independent Art Fair, among others.

This year’s gala honoree, Lisa Carter, has previously served on the HYSB board for many years and has been a vocal advocate for the work that they do. 

“When she was the principal at Salisbury Central, she created a handful of fundraisers that the school still participates in today. She’s been very involved in the work that we do and she’s been a great supporter,” Ashley said. “She’s been a wonderful leader for Region One.”

“We basically want the event to be two-fold,” Ashley continued. “We want it to be a celebration for the community to thank them for supporting us and our community’s youth, and also to celebrate Lisa for all of her contributions over the years.” 

The Housatonic Youth Service Bureau 

HYSB is an organization that provides free behavioral health services and empowerment programs in partnership with public and private schools, local organizations, and donors and volunteers in the Northwest Corner of Connecticut.

HYSB has a team of certified counselors that provide clinical services to students in Region One. Counselors meet with students during the school day to provide support and direction for a variety of issues including anxiety, feelings of loneliness, navigating divorce, a death in the family, or dealing with diagnoses like neurodiversity and ADHD, among many others. 

In 2020, HYSB saw a drastic increase in the need for mental health services in Region One. What started as a small organization has since doubled its staff and increased services by over 60 percent. 

“We went through a period of very rapid growth. We’ve hired more clinicians, taken on more caseloads, and increased programs that we do, too,” Ashley said. “It’s in response to community needs. If they need services, they contact us and let us know.” 

All services provided by HYSB are offered to students and families free of charge. In addition to conducting sessions with students, they also run various programs in schools throughout Region One including the rainbow alliance and a leadership group, both of which operate at the high school level. 

HYSB also offers pop-up childcare programs for parents when the school district has an early dismissal or a superintendent’s conference day. In the summer, they also offer two weeks of day camp to fill in the gap between when the area’s camps have stopped their services and when school starts. 

“Most of our services go towards elementary-aged children, which is usually an eye raiser for people when they find that out,” Ashley said. “On the one hand, it’s wonderful that we’re able to provide early intervention services for children, but it’s also a little concerning that they need them.” 

“Early intervention for occupational, speech, and mental health services have proven to be one of the most effective ways to create positive outcomes for youth, so supporting the work that we do for the children in the area is going to build more positive outcomes for the communities as a whole.” 

Ashley notes that HYSB is funded by the towns and donors in Region One, so when they need to increase services, they have to ask for help. 

“The services that we provide are unique in the area, and that we are able to provide them at no cost to the families means that we’re able to service a broader swath of the population than would normally be able to access quality mental health services,” Ashley said. “Given the big disparity in income in this area, we’re able to service people that otherwise might be left behind.” 

“This is one of our biggest fundraisers and it allows us to be able to do the work that we do,” Ashley said. “We appreciate the community’s support so much and we can’t wait to celebrate. There’s a strong sense of community here in the Northwest Corner, and we feel that so strongly at the event.” 

To purchase tickets for HYSB’s Gratitude Gala, visit this link. To learn more about HYSB and the services that they offer, visit their website here