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Faces of Pace Gala raises $174,580 for Pace programs in Lee County

Faces of PACE Gala 2023
Faces of PACE Gala 2023

The Faces of Pace Gala has raised $174,580 in support of programs for Pace Center for Girls, Lee.

The sold-out event was held Oct. 21 at the Caloosa Sound Convention Center & Amphitheater in Fort Myers, and featured dinner, dancing, live music and a live auction. The gala centered around the theme of “Sweet 16,” reflecting Pace’s 16-year history in Lee County. The event recognized the Faces of Pace who have played a key role in the center’s mission to change the lives of girls and young women.

“The Faces of Pace Gala was an incredible way to mark our Sweet 16th anniversary and to celebrate the achievements of all who have been a part of our journey here at Pace,” said Jennifer Cellitti, executive director of Pace Center for Girls, Lee. “This sold-out event is a true testament to the impact of our transformative programs, and we are extremely grateful for the unwavering support of our community. These funds will ensure that we continue our work in creating brighter futures for girls and young women for years to come.”

The evening included inspirational messages from founding members and alumni, underscoring the impact of the organization’s work. Three founding members, Gail Markham, Marshall T. Bower and Sandra Pavelka, recalled their journey in opening a Pace Center in Fort Myers in response to a growing number of at-risk girls and young women in Lee County. The message was followed by testimonials from former Pace students, including a mother of a current Pace girl.

“Seeing the transformations that have taken place over these 16 years is truly remarkable,” reflected Gail Markham, a founding board member of Pace Lee. “As our girls evolve and succeed in their own lives, I’m hoping that they will give back to our community and our alumni will come back to be part of our Pace community. Once a Pace girl, always a Pace girl.”

Proceeds from the event will support Pace Lee in providing girls and young women an opportunity for a better future through education, counseling, training and advocacy. Programs are based on the belief that all girls and young women, regardless of race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status, should be uniquely cared for, supported and encouraged to become the best versions of themselves through a path of healing and recovery.

The signature event was co-chaired by Noelle Casagrande and Lt. Angelo Vaughn with honorary chair Sandy Stilwell Youngquist. The Faces of Pace Gala was presented by B&I Contractors. The drink sponsor was Cushman & Wakefield Commercial Property Southwest Florida and the band sponsor was Stilwell Enterprises & Restaurant Group. Major event sponsors were CFS Roofing Services, Publix, Rich and Sandy Heinrich, and Suncoast Credit Union. Media sponsors were Florida Weekly and Gulfshore Life. Annual investors of Pace Lee are Lee Health, Priority Marketing, Sanibel Captiva Community Bank and Seminole Casino Hotel. In-kind sponsors included Caloosa Tent & Rental, Janda Maree Photography, Jason’s Deli of Southwest Florida, Markham Norton Mosteller Wright & Company, P.A., Megan DiPiero Photography, Priority Marketing and Ruth Messmer Florist.

To learn more about Pace Lee and its programs, visit www.pacecenter.org/locations/lee or call 239-425-2366.

About Pace Center for Girls, Lee

Pace Center for Girls, Lee, envisions a world where all girls and young women have power, in a just and equitable society. Founded in 1985, Pace provides free year-round middle and high school academics, case management, counseling, and life skills development in a safe and supportive environment that recognizes and deals with past trauma and builds upon girls’ individual strengths. Dedicated to meeting the social, emotional, and education needs of girls, Pace has a successful and proven program model that has changed the life trajectory of more than 40,000 girls and is recognized as one of the nation’s leading advocates for girls in need. For more information on Pace Center for Girls, Lee, call 239-425-2366 or visit www.pacecenter.org/locations/lee.

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