Article by Alexis Washington

RICHMOND, Va. – A Richmond hospital is treating a woman’s son after a car accident. She is determined to find somewhere to stay close to her son.

The mother walks into The Doorways after leaving the hospital with no money in her pockets.

The Doorways, a nonprofit organization, was able to assist the mom and provide her with a bed and essential needs at little to no cost, according to Communication Manager Jessica Hale.

VCU Department of Music is having its annual Holiday Gala on Dec. 8 in the Singleton Center for the Performing Arts. All proceeds will benefit The Doorways, according to Hale. The event is $10 for adults, and $5 for children under the age of 12, according to VCU Arts.

Holiday Gala 5 photo by Tim Chumley scaled 1719x1146

The Doorways provides low cost lodging for patients and caregivers that travel to Richmond for medical treatment, according to Hale.

VCU Health partners with The Doorways to accommodate patients and their loved ones, according to Hale. They provide information on the patient and the duration of their stay, Hale said.

About 85% of the residents at The Doorways receive care at VCU Health, according to Dr. Marcelle Davis who is on the Board of Directors at The Doorways and is the Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at VCU Health. VCU Health also assists with contract renewal and helps support the facility with scholarship dollars, Davis said.

The Doorways spends $8,200 per night to operate the facility. The facility estimates the cost for a night’s stay to be $50 per person, according to Hale. The proceeds from the gala will make a huge difference by providing guests with a place to stay, Hale said.

The Holiday Gala has been held for 36 years and became a local Richmond tradition, according to Professor Emeritus John Patykula.

“There are some people that come to the Holiday Gala that I don’t see at any other concerts, they come,” Patykula said. “It’s like a Richmond tradition; they look forward to it.”

Last year, about 250 guests showed up, Patykula said. This year he is hoping for more. Several years ago, the Holiday Gala served close to 500 people, Patykula said.

Patykula started this event with Terry Austin, who suggested having a concert featuring all the different areas of the Department of Music, according to Patykula. The chair of the department at the time was Richard Koehler. He liked Austin’s idea and proposed the event be a Holiday Gala with proceeds going to a worthy organization, Patykula said.

The Holiday Gala will be 30 to 40 minutes each half and is kept short because people bring their kids to the show, according to Patykula.

Guests can expect to listen to an array of musical performances by VCU students, alum and local musical groups, Patykula said.

The music selection is different each year, but musical groups are still the same. The Holiday Gala will feature percussion, symphonic, wind, and guitar ensembles as well as singers and a jazz orchestra, according to Patykula.

In addition to holiday music, the concert hall will be decorated and filled with holiday lights and poinsettias that can be purchased, according to Chief Philanthropy Officer of The Doorways, Sarah Melvin. There’s even a jolly surprise guest, Melvin said.

The Holiday Gala is festive and performances wear holiday hats and dress up, according to Hale.

Melvin will speak at the event right after intermission and is looking forward to discussing the mission of The Doorways.

“My job is to let people know about this fantastic facility in downtown Richmond, that hosts 150 people a night and doesn’t turn anyone away,” Melvin said.

Learn more about the Holiday Gala here.