By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
Voices Organized In Civic Engagement (VOICE) Action Fund will host its second annual Gala of Gratitude on Friday, November 6. The dinner and program will be held at the Petroleum Club 100 N. Broadway, Suite 3400, in downtown Oklahoma City.
A cocktail reception will begin at 6:30 p.m. The dinner and program will start at 7 p.m. The evening will include a DJ and dancing.
“Join us for a glamorous evening of fun, as we give thanks for the year and look forward to the future,” said Kristen King, lead organizer for the group.
VOICE is a coalition of 25 congregations, nonprofits, and schools with a common mission and concern for the pressures faced by families in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area.
“We want to develop the leadership skills of our own members to more effectively work within the democratic process with civic leaders and public officials on issues of concern to families,” said King.
Sundra Flansburg, President of the VOICE Education Fund said, “This year we have been doing some serious internal work among our institutions to deepen involvement, develop leaders, and add new institutions.”
Issues VOICE has been working on this year include, court and prison fines and fees, and education on the issue of panhandling. VOICE continues to be deeply involved in the issue of OG&E and their environmental compliance plan, which includies potential rate increases currently estimated at $1.1 billion or $16/mo for the average customer.
“Our restorative justice group has been working for over a year piecing together the information on how fines and fees impact former prisoners, our communities, and public safety in Oklahoma,” Flansburg said.
“Our aim is to build a strong coalition committed to working effectively to reduce that load on former inmates and allow law enforcement and the courts to focus on their public safety roles rather than acting as bill collectors.
She went on to say, “This is all part of a longer term effort that would involve things like improvements to community based mental health services and fully funding the Justice Reinvestment Initiative.
“This is a really interesting time right now,” Flansburg added, “I think we have an exciting year ahead.”
The VOICE Action Fund is a 501(c)4, making contributions non-deductible as charitable contributions for federal income tax purposes. Donations may be deductible as trade or business expenses, if ordinary and necessary in the conduct of the taxpayer’s business.
“Because we are non-partisan, we ask that elected officials and candidates for office not sponsor tables, but they are welcome to purchase individual tickets,” King added.
“VOICE is excited to be hosting our 3rd Gala of Gratitude,” said Melodie Garneau, VOICE Action Fund Board President. “We continue our tradition of honoring people or organizations making a difference in their communities and working to insure justice and fairness for all people.
Flansburg said, “It’s my involvement with VOICE that gives me hope for the future of Oklahoma City, and a way to channel my energy into productive and effective work that will make it a better place to live for all of us.”
Individual Gala tickets are $100 and sponsorships ranging from $250 to $2500 are available.