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The Rural Mission Fundraiser on Thursday evening was an event that will certainly be remembered by those in attendance. The moving affair was earmarked by an intense focus on those in need living in the Sea Islands, and it celebrated the humanity and character of the people being aided by Rural Mission while never losing sight of the purpose of the fundraiser.

Gospel music filtered across an earthy, beautiful space illuminated by strands of lights suspended between the trees. The decor was humble yet elegant, in keeping with the tone of the evening, and easels lining the periphery displayed boards introducing individuals in need of Rural Mission’s aid. Each board presented a touching, dignified portrait of a person whose home was in desperate need of repairs, ranging from running water and air conditioning to functioning toilets. The message hit home.

People mingled over cocktails before perusing the tantalizing spread of Lowcountry fare, including fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, cornbread ambrosia, and okra soup.  As dining began to give way to conversation, host Mickey Bakst of the Charleston Grill stepped forward to welcome the crowd with poignant speech and then turned the spotlight over to Rural Mission Director Linda Gadson. Gadson addressed guests straight from the heart, with words that can only be described as impassioned and stirring, and received a standing ovation. She was then awarded the Order of the Palmetto, which drew tears and many words of gratitude from both Gadson and her family.

The evening began to draw to a close, and as guests filtered out into the crisp fall night, you couldn’t help but appreciate the distinctive tone and mood of the event. This fundraiser truly spoke to those in attendance, and it spoke with powerful, simple words of dignity and need.

Rural Mission is a non-profit focused on serving the people of Charleston’s Sea Islands by fostering a multitude of programs, most notably the Sea Island Comprehensive Health Care Corporation (the Health Clinic) and the Johns Island Rural Housing Project.