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It was an evening of hope at HopeSpoke’s 70th anniversary Gourmet Comfort Classic, raising more than $60,000 to support its mission of inspiring healthy futures for children and families through comprehensive behavioral and mental health services.

Seven chefs prepared amazing cuisine and competed for a $500 cash award and a traveling trophy by serving up “The Best Comfort Food Since 1949.” The competition was stiff with Billy’s, Cactus, Chez Hay, Nebraska Club, Stur 22 and Venue chefs all participating; but it was newcomer Mary Ellen’s for the win! Charles Phillips, owner and executive chef of Mary Ellen’s Food for the Soul, shared, “Since my mother Mary Ellen passed away, this is my way to remember her and bring her good food to others.”

Those in attendance were moved by the heartfelt experiences of a child named Hope and the success that she had with HopeSpoke services as shared by her parents, Chris and Anne Hobbs.

Another highlight of the evening was when Katie McLeese Stephenson, HopeSpoke executive director, presented Leader in Mental Health Founders awards to the Junior League of Lincoln and the United Way of Lincoln and Lancaster County for their help in founding the agency 70 years ago. Kari Krier Schmitz, president of the Junior League of Lincoln, and Brian Wachman, executive director of the United Way of Lincoln and Lancaster County, accepted the awards with thanks for all of the children, youth and adults who have been helped in some way since the agency was founded so many years ago.

Memorabilia and a slide show highlighting years past also made for a fun evening to reminisce and look forward.

HopeSpoke’s mental health services are bolstered by support from the agency’s many sponsors, including Benefactor Sponsor Chateau Development LLC and Visionary Sponsors ABC Electric, Union Bank & Trust and Walmart.

For more information, go to hopespoke.org or call 402-475-7666.

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L Magazine editor

Mark Schwaninger is L magazine and Neighborhood Extra editor.

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