The community of Yelm came together in support of three businesses destroyed in a December fire at a fundraising event on Saturday, Jan. 8.
Three separate community dinners were held at 5 p.m., 6 p.m., and 7 p.m. during the Fire Relief Fundraiser at the Yelm Community Center before a raffle and auction concluded the night.
All the money raised from dinner, the raffle and the auction will be evenly divided and donated to the three businesses — Freedom Training Center, Happy Feet Spa and Red Nail salon — affected by the fire that took place on Dec. 22.
Dinner was sponsored and provided by Steele Barrel BBQ and Masonry Cafe and was priced at $50 per plate with the proceeds being donated. Better Homes and Gardens provided beverages for the evening and the City of Yelm sponsored the venue.
Throughout the night, people ate food and mingled with one another. Freedom Training Center founder and owner Melanie Medlock was present at the event, along with her employees.
Many residents in Yelm attended Freedom Training Center, which has been part of the Yelm community for nearly a decade.
At one point in the evening, Medlock, surrounded by her family and companions from Freedom Training Center, shared her appreciation to those in attendance.
“We thank you so much. Through this dark time you all have been such a bright light. Every donation, every text message, every call, it all means so much. We don’t have any answers yet, but we just want to say thank you,” Medlock said. “This is what community is for.”
After the dinners concluded, the raffle and auction took place. The items auctioned away included gift cards to local businesses, several memberships to local gyms, gift baskets put together by local businesses, and several desserts from Masonry Cafe. The raffle included Seahawks memorabilia and merchandise, wine, gift cards to local businesses, and different home decor items.
Line Roy, the organizer of the banquet and the executive director of the Yelm Chamber of Commerce, was optimistic with the amount of money that was raised, although a final number wasn’t available.
“We are happy with the early results. We’re excited to get the final numbers in the next few days,” said Roy. “Overall, I was really pleased by the event. It was put together so quickly after the fire. The fact that the community was able to pull together in such a short amount of time was really indicative of how our community comes together and supports each other.”
Yelm has built a great reputation of rallying support for residents in need, Roy said.
“I would like to give a special thank you to the businesses that supported this event, the volunteers who gave their time, Mel with Freedom Training Center for speaking from her heart, and our community for being so generous,” Roy said.
Steele Clayton, with Steele Barrel BBQ, has grown familiar with the owners of the businesses affected. Clayton said Medlock and those at Freedom Training Center have become great community leaders.
“Freedom has given so much back to our community, so I wasn’t surprised to see a big response, but it was truly heartwarming to see it become as successful and cohesive as it was,” he said. “They are the type of people that would usually put on these events, not the other way around.”
Overall, Clayton viewed the banquet as a success. He said the partnerships — from Roy running logistics, to the donations for the auctions and the local support to provide the food — he said “it was like seeing an organization that had run well for years come together overnight.”
After the event, Medlock reiterated her love for the community.
“In a devastating and dark time the community and city has flooded us with light of hope, encouragement and love,” Medlock said. “All things work together for good, and in a time such as this, it’s hard to see the good. The community as we looked around at the event was good in the present time and we felt the love.”
The banquet and fundraiser was just one of several events that have taken place for the businesses that were destroyed in the fire.
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