Socially-distanced ‘Sip ‘n Stroll’ raises critical funds for the Ballard House

Updated


The COVID-19 pandemic didn’t stop the Ballard House from offering free housing to patients seeking medical treatment in the area. It did, however, leave the nonprofit critically low on funding.

The Ballard House, a 501(c)(3) charity, has 40 living suites. Each suite is fully-furnished and features a private bath and kitchenette.

In an effort to raise funding for their mission of providing temporary housing free of charge for the individuals or caregivers seeking medical treatment in Katy, the Ballard House resumed its most popular fundraising event, the Katy Sip n’ Stroll at The ARK event center on Sept. 12.


Safety precautions abounded at the event as visitors sampled wines and bites from top wineries and local restaurants. The crowd was limited to 200 people. Each vendor wore masks and gloves. Visitors were asked to remain with their group and practice social distancing. Masks were required and could only be removed to eat or drink.



“Our biggest goal was to keep everyone safe,” said Kathy Alt, executive director of the Ballard House. “So we’ve taken every precaution, but it’s still a fun event.”


While funding fell short of the event’s typical $20,000 income, founding board member Chris Hiller was quick to note that any income from the event is beneficial to the charity. In addition to ticket sales, the Ballard House generated income from vendors, and the event featured a “wine pull” whereby guests could purchase a mystery bottle of wine for $10.


“This event is so important to us, because the Ballard House never shut down,” explained Alt. “We continued our mission throughout COVID. We have people there that are still pursuing their life-saving treatments, and without fundraising events, our funding is depleted.”

For the extra-cautious wine lover, the Ballard House also offered a “Virtual Sip n’ Stroll” on Sept. 11. Sommeliers live-streamed tastings for patrons who sipped along from the comfort of their homes.

While Alt hopes that fundraising events for the Ballard House will start to gain momentum as the community reopens, she emphasized that the organization is struggling to maintain operations as a result of financial setbacks from the pandemic.


“Donations are so important for us so we can continue to offer a home to people seeking treatment here,” Alt explained. “We also need volunteers, because many of our volunteers are in the ‘high risk’ category and have had to stop volunteering.”

She also noted that the Ballard House readily accepts donations of food, cleaning supplies, gifts and gift cards. “We’ve been very fortunate that through the pandemic, people have kept loving our guests from across the globe, and we welcome anyone who wants to drop these things off for them.”

The fall Sip n’ Stroll event is scheduled for Nov. 7.

“I always say, ‘If you think of Katy as a big house- the Ballard House is the guest room of Katy,’” Hiller said.

To learn more about the Ballard House or to donate to its efforts, visit www.theballardhouse.org.


claire.goodman@chron.com

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