2008 is "The Year of the Rat," which is the first sign of the Chinese zodiac representing leaders, pioneers and conquerors and a very appropriate sign for this year's Council Circle Foundation's annual Chinese New Year celebration fundraising event for its youth programs. The event is not a banquet but a cocktail party at the Elkhorn Golf Club on Saturday, Feb. 9, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $85 and $150 for couples.
There will be a variety of live auction items up for grabs, such as an Orcas Island trip, a stay in a house in Akumal, Mexico, dinner for two at 12 Wood River Valley restaurants, a dude ranch vacation in Montana, a stay at a condominium in Hawaii and a cross-country ski package. There will also be and a variety of silent auction items, which include several area artists' works.
"We have facilitators teaching the entire school year at the schools, and we have to pay them," said Council Circle President Priscilla Pittiglio. "This fundraising event helps to pay for the youth program, which is offered to the kids for free."
Council Circle reaches over 200 kids a year in 12 youth circle programs throughout the Wood River Valley. The program offers a safe place for children because it is a confidential, after-school program helping to build character development and provide support.
"We see shy kids getting more self esteem," Pittiglio said. "They are able to gain a support system beyond the parents."
Pittiglio said the program needs to be self-sustaining and is seeking ways to do that. The Council Circle has been asked by several other school districts to expand beyond the valley throughout Idaho, but the financial means does not exist.
"It has been really nice to have school counselors be very supportive of us," Pittiglio said. "We work very closely with them."
The Council Circle provides 35 weeks—an entire school year—of free character development and has received a grant from Wood River Women's Charitable Foundation last spring, but needs more funding to not only to keep the program going but to establish an office and administrative support. The youth program costs $110, 000 to operate. Council Circle focuses upon better communication and in addition offers circles to adults and seniors, and will do custom corporate and businesses circles.
"It's for the kids," Pittiglio said. "Kids learn to be good listeners and listen with an open heart without judgment."