Originally published on The Nugget News, February 8, 2011

 

The Sisters community came out in force Saturday night to put money behind the dreams and aspirations of graduating seniors.

By the end of the Rhinestone Cowboy Auction, sponsored by Sisters Graduate Resource Organization (Sisters GRO) and held at FivePine Convention Center, the coffers were filled with an estimated $21,000, which will be dispersed to graduating seniors from Sisters High School.

Sisters GRO is dedicated to making sure that every deserving student has the opportunity to receive a scholarship to pursue his or her post-secondary dreams, whether they include a four-year university, vocational training or some other route to chase their dreams.

The auction was the first public fundraising event staged by Sisters GRO, and organizers were please with the results.

“It took a lot of work and a generous community,” said GRO chairperson Karen Hensley.

Live and silent auction items ranged from luxury vacations to golf or dining packages to jewelry and clothing, all donated by the local community or secured through personal contacts among the GRO board and the school community.

Jennifer McCrystal convinced her brother, professional auctioneer Jeff Mornarich, to come to Sisters to work the event. His humorous style and quick wit contributed to the entertainment value of the evening, and surely helped GRO maximize the dollar value of the auction.

Scholarships are more important now than ever. In a promotional video created by the Sisters High School Digital Arts program, Hensley noted that “the cost of education in our state has gone up like 89 percent since 2000.”

Sisters schools superintendent Jim Golden noted that secondary education of some kind is critical to students’ future success in an increasingly competitive global economy.

To highlight the daunting financial load faced by local families aspiring to college educations for their children, students who served as waitstaff wore placards bearing the cost of four years of school at a variety of colleges and universities. The figures ran into the tens of thousands of dollars.

With the importance of secondary education becoming ever more critical and the cost of that education growing exponentially, financial support from the community is for many students the only hope they have of pursuing further education and the careers of their choice.

That financial support has been forthcoming in recent years from many, many individuals and organizations in the Sisters Country. Sisters GRO got started as a coordinating agency for managing these scholarships and has since developed its fundraising capacity to augment existing community contributions.

With the Rhinestone Cowboy auction, Sisters GRO proved its direct fundraising power.