United Way presents Levels: A River Cities Rendezvouss

The United Way of the River Cities first fundraising Gala, Levels: A River Cities Rendezvous, will be held at the Marshall University Visual Arts Center on Saturday.

Director of Resource Development, Will Holland, has helped to create Levels in order to raise money for the United Way’s many contributions to the community.

“The event is the United Way of the River Cities big fundraising event of the year, it’s the first one that we’ve ever had but we intend for it to be an annual event,” Holland said.

“The thing it’s most closely related to is a Gala but it doesn’t follow that format. It is a nicer, fancier event but ultimately what we wanted to do was bring something to the Huntington Area that didn’t already exist here. So there’s already a few great Galas in town so we wanted something entirely different. One of the goals was to make it really accessible, what I mean by that was creating an atmosphere that was still premiere, elegant, exciting and fun, but make it a little bit more affordable and also make it to where you don’t have to rent a tux or buy a gown. So it’s semi-formal.”

Each level of the VAC will create a unique and different experience during the event. Six well-known restaurants and bars have created signature drinks especially for Levels. Two of the bars will feature various craft beers paired with food; one beer is from the West Virginia area and the other is from around the country.

“We wanted to make this awesome event to as many people as possible and so that’s why we have the really friendly prices on the tickets,” Holland said. “We don’t have as strict of a dress code and the more people that come in and purchase tickets they will be providing support for all of United Ways works. So 100% of the ticket sales go right directly to the causes we represent. Anything we do at United Way is always to give back to the community.

“We wanted to make this awesome event to as many people as possible and so that’s why we have the really friendly prices on the tickets.”

— Will Holland

Marshall University School of Art and Design director, Sandra Reed, said it is important for the students involved to have this chance to showcase their work and support a wonderful community cause at the same time.

Student and community artists had the opportunity to be involved in the event by submitting project proposals that encompassed the United Way’s four initiatives; education, income, health and safety net.

“From the academic orientation, the most important thing to talk about is the commissioned competition that United Way ran for students to propose installations throughout the Visual Arts Center on the four service themes of United Way,” Reed said. “So this summer United Way developed a competition with $200 per selected commission to pay for supplies.”

Students were able to meet with United Way event directors as well as MU staff in order to generate and narrow installation ideas prior to submitting their proposals. Five student installations were commissioned by the United Way, specifically to be featured for the event.

For 1 of the 5 installations, a small nook of the visual arts center was turned into a reading room with a handmade lamp, wall mounted book shelf and a chair made out of cardboard that resembles a stack of books with the top book opened up to be the seat and the back of the chair. The reading nook is also filled with dozens of antique children’s books.

For another installation, 2 students created a wall sized recovery tree surrounded by floating butterflies. The upward movement resembles moving out of addiction or toward recovery.

“I’m really proud that United Way has had so much interaction with our students and that our students, as citizens of Huntington, have learned a great deal about United Way and what it does within the communities it serves,” Reed said.

The pieces were installed on Sept. 17 and will remain in the building until Oct. 16, with multiple viewing events scheduled in-between.

Levels will begin at 7 p.m. Tickets will be available at the door for $125 for a couple and $75 for an individual.


Kelsie Lively can be contacted at [email protected].