SRU honoring nonprofit stars at ‘Academy Awards’ Gala
The stars of the nonprofit sector will be recognized with trophies resembling Oscar Awards at the Nonprofit Organization Academy Awards Dinner and Gala, April 26 at the Russell Wright Alumni House.
April 13, 2017
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Leaders in the nonprofit sector may not be celebrities on the silver screen, but they are the stars when it comes to serving their communities. Students at Slippery Rock University will get to treat them as such when the Student Nonprofit Alliance hosts the 2017 Nonprofit Organization Academy Awards Dinner and Gala, 6:30-9 p.m., April 26 in SRU's Russell Wright Alumni House.
"This kind of event opens your eyes to how a lot of nonprofits don't get recognition for what they do," said Alyssa Marzula, a senior philanthropy and nonprofit management major from Wexford. "It's an opportunity for nonprofits to recognize their employees and their volunteers because they do a lot of good work. It's something fun to do and something an organization can use to show appreciation to its people."
Now in its fourth year, the event celebrates the accomplishments of nonprofit organizations in Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Lawrence and Mercer counties.
Participating organizations are able to nominate staff, board members, volunteers and other contributors for awards including: youth volunteer of the year, most outstanding board member and most impactful program of the year, to name a few. Winners are presented with trophies that resemble those handed out at the Oscars.
In addition to a formal dinner, the event features a red carpet, photographers and names of attendees on stars, a la the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
"As much as we can, we do it like the Academy Awards," said Alice Del Vecchio, assistant professor of interdisciplinary programs. "I always tell people, it's the one night to bring out the stars of the nonprofit sector. The agencies have told us that means something to them, particularly that these students who are going to be entering their sector took the time to organize the celebration."
The event is organized entirely by students from Del Vecchio's nonprofit philanthropy class, the Student Nonprofit Alliance and students majoring or minoring in nonprofit management.
Because event planning is the "bread and butter" of nonprofit organizations, according to Del Vecchio, students develop valuable skills by organizing the event. Grouped by committees, the students do everything from soliciting sponsorships from businesses to selecting the menu all while adhering to a set budget.
"We're getting a lot out of it," said Briana Quinones, a senior liberal arts major from Matawan, New Jersey. "There were lots of little details to work through. I can't fathom someone having to do everything on their own."
For Marzula and Quinones and Marzula, who serve on the event's public relations committee, the gala also provides an important opportunity to network with nonprofit professionals.
"A couple of us are looking for internships and jobs, so the chance to form connections and network is big," Marzula said.
"Those people are role models," Del Vecchio said. "They're doing what my students want to do. You can have a role model from a distance, where you read a case study and write an article, but to sit elbow-to-elbow with people in the community who are doing very important things in an area where you want to work is a whole other story."
One of those role models, and a new spin on this year's event, is the gala's first master of ceremonies from an outside agency as Butler County Commissioner Leslie Osche, a former executive director of the United Way of Butler County, will host the event.
"As a commissioner, she knows the important role between the private, public and nonprofit sectors," Del Vecchio said. "It takes all of those players to enhance quality of life in a community."
Nearly 50 nominees and their guests are expected to attend the gala, from agencies such as the Lighthouse Foundation in Butler and the Slippery Rock Community Library. Additionally, SRU will recognize nonprofit management majors inducted into the Sigma Nu Alpha nonprofit honorary.
All proceeds from the gala support scholarships for students in the nonprofit management program at SRU, which is the only undergraduate institution in Pennsylvania that offers such a program.
"It's a win for the organizations to get honored, it's a win for the students who come as attendees and it's a win for the students who put it together," said Del Vecchio. "It's also a win for the University as the organizations in the community begin to realize what a gem they have in Slippery Rock because we are the only University with this major."
Nonprofit organizations can submit award nominations through April 14 by contacting Del Vecchio at firstname.lastname@example.org. Attendees also can register by April 14 by visiting www.givetosru.org/snaawards.
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