Green and Gold Gala charity event

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INAUGURAL GALA—The first-ever Green and Gold Gala was held at the freshly built Northern Center Sept. 21 to raise money for a series of scholarships to help students in need. The money raised came from half the price of the attendee’s tickets which were $150 a person. Denali Drake/NW

Mary McDonough

A bustle of conversation filled the entryway of the Northern Center 6 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 21 as all different members of the NMU community came together for a night dressed in their best wildcat colors to commemorate the first-ever Green and Gold Gala. A jazz combo of NMU student musicians played in the corner accompanying the building buzz of excitement. 

Half of every ticket to the event went to help the Student Flexible Aid Fund, financial aid provided by the university aimed to help students cover unexpected expenses that might keep them from graduating. 

NMU President Fritz Erikson, even with all the glitz and glamour, found the heart of the cause was not to show off the newly opened Northern Center, but how many people came to support the Student Flexible Aid Fund. 

“It’s so important, because to students a small amount of money is the difference between staying in school and not,” Erikson said. “We just use it for whatever the need is.” 

It was announced later that the efforts raised $200,000 for the Student Flexible Aid Fund. Erikson views this inaugural gala as a milestone for the future of NMU students and community. But it also said more about the donors behind the fund. 

“This is setting a benchmark. It’s fun to have a gala, but they’re really doing it to express support for students,” Erikson said. “Listen to the stories of these students who were impacted by these dollars.” 

 A number of faculty and staff were among those to take part in the event. Director of Performing Arts Bill Digneit saw the attendance as a large step in the right direction.  

“Seeing as many people from the community, region and alumni along with people that have been affected by our fund, it’s exciting. It’s inspiring. It’s hopeful for our future,” Digneit said. “I think this is only the beginning.” 

While only a few students were invited to attend among the many donors and university executives, Digneit points out that the impact of one night will reach far and reflects a passion there is to help students graduate.

“They have a really supportive community, faculty and staff that really wants to make sure if something happens or a bump in the road, we are working to support them in anyway we can,” Digneit said.  

Sophomore pre-surgical technology major Grace Wells was one of those students impacted by the help of the Student Flexible Aid Fund, receiving the Emergency Fund Scholarship. Being able to spend the evening with many people who donated means a moment to realize just how big of a safety net people can be.

“It’s good to see everybody come together. You don’t really think about how many people are behind you and supporting you until you come to an event like this and see where the money comes from,” Wells said.

Donor Don Ryan found the turn out as a testament to the kind of people want to see NMU students succeed. 

“It’s wonderful to see all the community support,” Ryan said. “If the community supports the school that’s good for the students too.”

To apply for assistance from the Student Flexible Aid Fund, applications are available in the Financial Aid Office.