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Colonnade Ball opens dance floor to more students

29th annual charity ball promotes participation for low-income students, benefits refugees

<p>Nov. 3 marks the University Guide Service’s 29th annual charity Colonnade Ball benefitting the International Rescue Committee of Charlottesville.</p>

Nov. 3 marks the University Guide Service’s 29th annual charity Colonnade Ball benefitting the International Rescue Committee of Charlottesville.

A ball at the Downtown Mall, a beautiful venue, food, music, elaborate decorations and a night with friends — this event on Nov. 3 marks the University Guide Service’s 29th annual charity Colonnade Ball.

“[The ball] was originally put on by the Guide Service to restore the Lambeth colonnades, and as years went by, they didn’t really need to focus on that cause anymore,” said Edem Akwayena, a ball host and a fourth-year Engineering student.

U-Guides now donates to organizations and programs within the University, such as Green Dot and Active Minds. This year, however, they are raising money for a different cause. 

“This year, I wanted to take it a little bit more and do something in the Charlottesville community, so I chose the International Rescue Committee,” Akwayena said. “U.Va. does employ people who have been impacted by the IRC, so it does kind of hit our students in a way.”

The International Relations Organization at the University, which often donates to the IRC, is also a co-sponsor for the ball. 

“I’m very much in support of [U-Guides donating to the IRC,]” said Katya Sankow, an IRO member-at-large and a second-year College student. “Especially a time like this, after the events that happened in Charlottesville, bridging the gap between students and the community is really important.”

In addition to connecting the University and Charlottesville communities, Sankow hopes that the ball will raise awareness about the IRC. 

“You say IRC, and the first thing people think is the International Residential College,” Sankow said. “[I hope the ball will raise] awareness among students and the money, of course, will hopefully go toward developing programs [for the IRC].” 

U-Guides also interviewed Charlottesville residents who were helped by the IRC. 

“We were looking to get interviews from refugees in the area who go to the IRC so that we can have a more personal touch on the donations [and] actually know we we’re donating to,” said Lauren Faloni, a ball Committee member and a second-year College student. 

Although the interviews provided insight into the lives of refugees in Charlottesville, some language barriers posed difficulties. 

“It was really hard for me to explain what University Guide Service was and why we wanted to conduct an interview,” Faloni said. “It really helped when the person I was trying to interview got his friend who was like his translator … But [the interview was] definitely worth it — it worked out.” 

To make the ball accessible to everyone, U-Guides also worked with United for Undergraduate Socioeconomic Diversity to provide tickets for low-income students. 

“[The ball] costs a lot to throw, but we want to make it … a little more affordable than some of the other bigs balls that happen during the year,” Akwayena said. “It’s also one of the only non-Greek balls at U.Va., so literally anyone can go to it.”

However, decreasing the costs of tickets proved to be a challenge in conjunction with funding efforts for the ball. 

“Trying to raise money while you’re giving away so many tickets has been a very big struggle,” Akwayena said. “I really hope this is a new pattern that the Guide Service continues to take on — always providing tickets to low-income students.”

Funding was further complicated when organizations that had typically donated generous amounts to the U-Guides were not able to donate to this year’s ball. 

“Some organizations used to throw us $3,000 and that just didn’t happen,” Akwayena said. “So it meant reaching out to other organizations that we’ve never reached out to for funding … But we’ve been slowly able to reach that total.”