It was a perilous plunge to take, but the outcome certainly made it all worthwhile! The risky move—replacing the usual lavish gala with an online comedy and music show—proved to be an overwhelming success. Beyond all expectations, the virtual Happening event, presented by the National Bank, raised the net amount of $115,703.53 for the Residence.
Close to 310 people had purchased tickets, which suggests that the two virtual rooms included a total of approximately 600 guests who gathered on Saturday, April 24 to enjoy the event.
During the evening, 50 of these spectators further demonstrated their generosity by becoming ambassadors of the Residence. “We were a little concerned about this part of the evening,” admits Nathalie Blanchet, Director of Philanthropic Development at the Residence. “We were under the impression that, in this virtual format, people might not be as willing to become ambassadors. We were so incredibly moved by the generosity of the gala’s spectators… it gave us chills!”
Judging from the smiling and laughing faces projected on two giant screens facing the stage where the event took place, the remote audience was delighted by Louis-José Houde’s performance. And, Louis-José didn’t hesitate a moment to interact with them, making humorous remarks and comments about certain spectators, personally addressing them by the names that appeared under their virtual windows.
Comedian Simon Gouache also gave a fabulous performance, as did Joey Elias, who performed for the evening’s English-speaking audience.
A second home
A 10-year-old boy and his father provoked a huge outpouring of generosity as they recounted the last days they spent with the most special woman in their lives—a mother, a wife—at the Residence. Justin and Charles Breton illustrated the incredible humanity of the care provided at the Residence with a striking authenticity. “The first time I went, I wasn't too sure what the place was and how things were going to be. Then, after going a few times, I felt it was like my Mom’s second home,” Justin says in the video.
From the first minute it played, the video generated a flood of generous donors, all agreeing to become ambassadors of the Residence. As one name after another popped up in the chat box, they were written on cards for host Natalie Poirier to read out. They were coming in so quickly, she could barely keep up with thanking each ambassador individually!
Musical group SHINE then followed things up with a lively musical performance, belting out an hour of pop and rock hits from the 70s, 80s and 90s. It was a joy to see spectators of all ages—including a cat!—dancing in their living rooms, kitchens, offices and bedrooms!
The two singers and three musicians ended the night with their heart-wrenching rendition of With or Without You by U2 as, onscreen, couples, parents and children, brothers and sisters, could be seen embracing.
Even virtually, the warmth of solidarity, gratitude and attachment bearing witness to the audience’s commitment to the cause was unmistakably profound.