Skies are blue at the ALSO Youth “Over the Rainbow” Gala

By : Krista Di Tucci
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ALSO Gala guest host, David “Scarbie” Mitchell.

SARASOTA – ALSO Youth will celebrate its fourth annual prom/gala, “Over the Rainbow,” on April 1 from 6 to 10 p.m. at the Lido Beach Resort in Sarasota.

ALSO Youth director Molly Swift says this year’s highlights will include drag performer David “Scarbie” Mitchell as guest host and an “Over the Rainbow” ukulele performance from some of ALSO’s members.

As guests arrive, a “Pot-O-Gold”will be on display to collect spare change. Tony Boothby, ALSO Youth board member and gala committee chair, says the organizers will be keeping a running tally throughout the night as people donate coins.

The gala will include cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, raffles, dinner, awards ceremony and dancing. Arthur Boyce and Amanda Just will be honored as Volunteers of the Year, and Rae Mathews as Youth of the Year.

Swift says Just interacts closely with the youth at ALSO and is always available when the center needs extra chaperones for field trips.

“She’s got a great sense of humor,” Swift says. “She doesn’t hesitate to roll up her sleeves and get involves. She takes as much off of our plates as possible.”

Boyce was also selected as a Volunteer of the Year because Swift says she couldn’t decide on just one award recipient. Boyce is a volunteer for the gala committee and contributes significantly to event sponsorships. Swift says Boyce is always thinking about the youth and doing little things to make them happy – for instance, arriving at the center with rainbow goodies he picked up from the store.

Youth of the Year Rae Mathews is a senior at SuncoastPolytechnical High School and has been attending ALSO Youth since 2013. Swift says Mathews transitioned literally and figuratively – openly transgender, he quickly shifted from shy and quiet to outgoing and gregarious once he became a member of ALSO.

“One of the first times I met him, he had all these carnations he was giving to people in downtown Sarasota just to make them smile,” Swift says. “He really wants to make the world a better place.”

The night’s raffle prizes will include a Pandora bracelet and gift card, massage and spa basket, Lido Beach package, assorted chocolate treats, Sarasota dining gift package, restaurant gift cards, massage and health cards, and a Dunkin Donuts gift basket.

So far, Boothby says ALSO has received $23,200 in sponsorships. Platinum sponsors include Mark Steinwachs and Jarred Wilson. Other sponsors to date include Chubb, CAN, Markley Construction, Christopher Best and Tony Boothby, Advance Talent Solutions, Thane E. Richmond-Moore and Jonathan H. Moore, Banana Tree Concierge, Fran Goldberg and Harriet Leyden, Watermark, B2 End Interiors, Interior Design Society Sarasota Chapter, Pandora, Arthur Boyce and Louis DeCongelio, Medical Fitness Specialists, and Mary Davenport. Additionally, Swift says between 15 and 20 community members have sponsored youth tickets.

“We have more than one full table of youth who are regular attendees from the center,” Swift says. “It’s really special for them to be present and see the community of adults standing behind them. Some of the youth don’t have that support from home or school.”

Lastly, ALSO will be rolling out the center’s renovation project “Project ALSO” led by the Interior Design Society (IDS) Sarasota Chapter and Markley Construction. Swift says the project involves transforming the center from one multipurpose space to several smaller spaces, allowing for simultaneous programs.

“We’ll be able to separate vulnerable groups now if necessary,” Swift says. “I’m really excited for what this will mean for our programming.”

For tickets, sponsorships and other event information, visit ALSOYouth.org.

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