101420_MNS_Vintage_Affair Roger Frysh Cheryl Sykes

Roger Frysh, right, president and CEO of Ascot Diamonds Atlanta in Sandy Springs, shows Vintage Affair chair Cheryl Sykes some of the jewelry sold there. As part of the raffle prize for this year’s Vintage Affair, Ascot donated a $5,000 gift card for a piece of jewelry.

Since March, countless local events have been scrapped due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but organizers of the Vintage Affair weren’t going to let that happen to this one.

“Cancelling it was never an option. We were going to find a way to make it happen,” said Cheryl Sykes, chair of the largest annual fundraiser for the Community Assistance Center in Sandy Springs. “CAC depends so much on the revenues from Vintage Affair for its clients.”

This year’s Vintage Affair, which will be held virtually due to the outbreak, will take place Oct. 24 at 6:30 p.m. The event will benefit the nonprofit center, which serves the poor in Sandy Springs and Dunwoody and opened a second location in Dunwoody in November. Despite the pandemic, organizers said they hope to raise as much as $250,000, the amount the event brought in last year.

Starting in late March, when organizers realized they would need to shift the event to an online format, they’ve been creative, coming up with an “Island Getaways” theme and billing it as “live yet virtual.” The 2020 Vintage Affair will include live and silent auctions, live music from the Caribbean Steel band and entertainment provided by comedian and emcee Sterling Thrill. Also, Bill Borden will return as the auctioneer.

Tamara Carrera, the center’s CEO, added, “We wanted to do something that could compete with the awesome (2019) event at Mercedes-Benz USA (headquarters). Cheryl has done an amazing job of really organizing an event online that is going to be almost as exciting or maybe more exciting that the real thing. … We’re all connected electronically through the production company that is connecting everyone together.”

Attendees can purchase tickets one of three ways: first, for $1,000 one can become an island host who can invite friends over for a viewing party at one’s private “island.” Tickets include online access to all parts of the event, including island check-ins, and two four-course dinners with wine that will be delivered to one’s home.

Second, for $100 per person or $200 per couple, one can get a package that includes food and wine and online access to everything except the island check-ins.

Any other Vintage Affair attendees who paid the $100 or $200 ticket prices and are joining an island host’s party can have their food and wine delivered to that house. Those who are having their viewing party at home will need to pick up their food and wine from the caterer the day of the event.

Third, for $50 one can purchase one of 1,200 raffle tickets, which will include a $5,000 gift card for a piece of jewelry at Ascot Diamonds and a $3,000 shopping spree to any retailer, plus access to online auction bidding.

“All of our host committee people are ecstatic over it, and our individual ticket purchasers are, too,” Sykes said. “It’s the best of all worlds. You’re safe in your own home with people you feel safe around, you’re enjoying a live performance by Caribbean Steel and bidding on some exciting auction items while raising money and supporting an organization that, quite candidly, that has seen an increase in demand for its services.

“CAC helps people get through these cataclysmic things that happen in their lives. CAC is at its heart is neighbors helping neighbors.”

The center provides services such as food and clothing, financial help for rent and utilities and adult education and job placement. Since the pandemic started, Carrera said, it has shifted its services online but kept its food pantry open and briefly closed then reopened its thrift shop, and the demand for help has increased tremendously.

“I can’t tell you enough about how our staff has been amazing in developing and creating programs to help with (the pandemic),” she said. “We have helped over 1,000 families with rent assistance. We have gotten support from the community.”

The center has received COVID-19 relief grants from the city of Sandy Springs and DeKalb and Fulton counties and has applied for a grant from the city of Dunwoody. But because some of those funds come from the federal CARES Act, which set limits on the income recipients must have to $40,000 per household, Carrera said the funds it gets from the Vintage Affair are huge because they can provide them to families making $50,000 or $60,000.

“It really gives us flexibility on how we can help others,” she said, adding she’s even had to hire two more employees because of the increase in work volume.

For more information on the Vintage Affair or to purchase tickets, visit www.vintageaffair.org.

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