AFCEA-Bethesda, Children's Inn end partnership for annual charitable gala

Thursday - 7/10/2014, 3:17pm EDT

By Ellen Kortesoja
Federal News Radio

Two organizations with a 16-year partnership are ending their collective involvement in a popular, profitable charity gala.

The Children's Inn at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) — a residential place for sick children and their families — has long been the sole recipient of the profits garnered from AFCEA-Bethesda's annual gala, "A Night for the Children."

But the vice chair of the Board of Directors at the Children's Inn, Kelvin Womack, released a statement Tuesday saying that because the funds raised at this year's gala were split between the Children's Inn and a second charity, and the split was likely the new norm for the event in 2015, the Children's Inn would cease to be involved in the annual gala.

In a June 8 release, AFCEA-Bethesda announced the results from this year's gala, saying the $500,000 would be evenly divided between the Inn and D.C. House of Ruth—a D.C. shelter for children recovering from homelessness and abuse.

Womack writes that the decision was a shock to the Children's Inn, "most noticeably to our budget, which had been prepared based on a continuing level of support from AFCEA-Bethesda."

"...In order to minimize confusion among our supporters it is best for AFCEA-Bethesda to move forward with their 2015 gala without The Inn as a participant," Womack said in the statement.

Leslie Steele, president of AFCEA-Bethesda, tells Federal News Radio her organization is proud of its long partnership with the Children's Inn at NIH. Steele says in that time, the Inn has received $6 million as a result of the collaboration between the two groups.

"It's really helped lift them from financial distress, to strong financial health," she says. "This very much is a story of the power of giving from our federal IT community. And AFCEA-Bethesda is taking the story of success to other charitable organizations that help children in need."

Steele says AFCEA-Bethesda is "proud that the Children's Inn can stand on its own."