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A Special Soiree: Fall Gala at Palace Grand to benefit local education

Hernando Today Correspondent

Published:   |   Updated: September 13, 2013 at 03:52 PM

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Save the date for next Friday night's dinner and dance fall gala at Palace Grand in Spring Hill.

The fundraiser gala event will benefit two Hernando County nonprofit organizations: the Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce's Chamber Education & Training Association and Communities in Schools of Hernando County.

CETA's mission is to create an educated and ready workforce for local business.

Communities in Schools of Hernando County is a local high school dropout prevention program. Its mission is to increase the graduation rate and decrease the dropout rate of local high school students by bringing needed community resources into Hernando County schools.

Tracy Echols, executive director and president of Communities in Schools of Hernando County, said that the fundraiser will help raise funds to purchase needed supplies, provide tutors and provide background clearance for mentors, tutors and volunteers within Hernando County schools.

"Serving the children and schools comes first and foremost," she said. "We have need for mentors. We need tutors to help in math in particular and reading and help with homework.

"Sometimes we just need individuals who will sit in the class to help students keep their focus so the teacher can teach or greet them first thing in the morning and encourage them in their day."

"We need general volunteers to help spread the word about what we do and help with events and activities within the community," she added.

"We really need to get into all seventh grades to stem the belief that you can drop out of school and be successful in today's economic climate. We need to get these students' heads turned in the right direction about their education while meeting their basic as well as educational needs. It is near impossible to be successful in today's economy without that high school diploma and hopefully either a career certification or some college," said Echols.

Echols explained that CETA's goal is to help create the connection between schools and local businesses, supporting the "next step" for graduating students to college and successful careers, along with supporting adult education and re-training for higher-wage jobs.

"Children need a basic education and high school diploma before even the military will take them now. Most employers have the ability to be choosy about who they hire and more and more are expecting some college or credentials to even get a minimum-wage job," said Echols.

Echols stressed the importance of raising funds for local school children to keep them in school.

"We can either help keep children in school to get their education and become contributing members of society and build up our human infrastructure or we can pay for them to be on social assistance for the rest of their lives or in jail," Echols said. "The latter costs a lot more.

"So coming out to have a nice meal and a good time for two great charities that are working to help Hernando County's children, schools and businesses just makes all kinds of sense as well as dollars and cents sense. Together we can make a difference."

The dinner and dance gala event will be held Sept. 20 at Palace Grand, located at 275 Della Court in Spring Hill.

Hors d'oeuvres and cocktail hour starts at 6 p.m. followed by a three-course buffet dinner with a choice of chicken piccata, pasta primavera and tortilla-crusted tilapia, along with vegetables, side dishes, desserts and beverages at 7 p.m.

Dress as fancy as you like for a night of great food, music and dancing. Black tie is optional.

The Shadow Ridge Band will play a variety of tunes for entertainment, including pop, rock, classics and country.

"They mix it up, keep it lively, play a great variety of music and keep the party going," said Echols.

Tickets are $50 per person and can be purchased online at http://ceta-cis-eac2 or in person at the Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce office, 15588 Aviation Loop Drive, Brooksville.

For more information, contact Tracy Echols at (352) 277-3322 or visit www.cis

Hernando Today correspondent Heather Francis can be reached at

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