A New Leaf

by RaeAnne Marsh

A New Leaf Groundbreaking For Permanent Housing ProjectLive-auction bidding on the opportunity to donate equipment needed by a designated New Leaf program has become a hallmark — and highlight — of the organization’s Camaraderie Gala fundraiser, this year being held March 2 at the Arizona Grand Hotel. “It’s the most exciting part [of the gala]. We auction off items people can’t take home, like buying beds for the program and the clients we’re helping,” says Torrie Taj, chief operating officer, noting it’s also a great way to recognize people for their support.

Not all items are for altruistic reward. This year’s auction slate will tempt bidders with a variety that also includes a trip to Paris — appropriately capping this year’s gala’s “Springtime in Paris” experience.

The evening starts with a social hour and silent auction, followed by dinner during which guests will see a three-minute video that, says president and CEO Michael Hughes, “brings home the reason they’re there.” The live auction is next, then the evening continues with casino games and dancing, hosted by a DJ who mixes it up with a musical variety from oldies to contemporary. Not only are photos posted in real time on Facebook but guests receive a professional portrait to take home.


  • A New Leaf began in 1971 as PREHAB of Mesa, focusing on the PREvention and reHABilitation of troubled youth.
  • Now reaching families and youth countywide, the organization’s programs range from affordable supportive housing and shelters for domestic violence victims and the homeless to youth services, foster care services and outpatient counseling.
  • Most of its 350 staff, which include social workers and staff for its 22 sites, are behavioral health professionals.
  • Volunteers donated nearly 20,000 hours in 2012.
  • A New Leaf serves about 19,000 people per year, most of them children.
  • The Camaraderie Gala supports those programs that do not get enough funding, this year focusing on the shelter services and affordable housing.
  • The 29-year-old event is expected to net between $150,000 and $200,000.

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