Contractors ready for annual gala

The community has been pulling together once again for the 5th Annual Springtime Gala presented by Contractors for a Cause. The event will be held next Friday, June 19, with hopes that this year will once again welcome a sold-out crowd.

The Springtime Gala will be held at 7 p.m. at Cripple Creek Country Club, benefiting the Justin W. Jennings (JWJ) Foundation and Justin’s Beach House, which aims to help families affected by cancer. Along with the Contractors for a Cause annual fall golf tournament and last month’s inaugural 5K run, the annual gala has played a big role in raising money for the foundation.

“The success of the events has been tremendous,” said Brenden Welch, appointed chairman of the events. “We’ve received a lot of support from the local population. Last year, we thought stuff would be slower, given the economy’s situation, but last fall, we had more teams and more hole sponsors than ever participate in our golf tournament. It’s been a very lucrative year, and we aren’t expecting it to slow down.”

Next week’s gala is a Caribbean-themed event with live music, dancing and a pig roast. Live and silent auctions from some of the area’s popular businesses will be available, too.

“We’ve had terrific turnouts in the past,” said Joann Pullin, administrative assistant with Miken Builders. “It’s been tremendous. We get a lot of the same people because they know it’s a great time and it’s for a great cause.

This year’s live auction items include sports memorabilia, including a signed Joe Flacco jersey, and unmistakable art, such as pieces from Ellen Rice’s gallery.

“We have 50-some silent auction items, too,” said R. Craig Nantais, director of events for the JWJ Foundation who started the organization with wife Mary Ellen after the passing of their son Justin Jennings. “We’ve had a great response from local restaurants and businesses,” he added. “There are some great gifts to bid on, including gift certificates and packages for a girls- or guys-day-out.”

“There are a lot of members of the local Chamber of Commerce getting involved, too,” said Welch. “It’s very pleasing to see it all come together the way it has.” Contractors for a Cause began raising awareness and funds for diabetes treatment and research, but wasted no time partnering with the JWJ Foundation in 2005. They have also raised money for academic scholarships for Indian River and Sussex Tech high school students wishing to pursue a career in engineering and construction. This fall, the organization expects to break ground on Justin’s Beach House, which will be situated along the south side of Route 26, just west of Grotto’s in Bethany Beach, slightly to the west of its original planned location. “We’re excited where everything is headed,” said Nantais. “Everything is right on schedule.”

Tickets for the June 19 gala cost $75 per person and are available through committee members of Contractors for a Cause. Contact Mike and Cathy Cummings at Miken Builders by calling (302) 537-4444, Mark Hardt and Frank Miranda of Miranda and Hardt Construction at (302) 539-8048, Andy Lyons of Kornerstone Management at (302) 249-1318 or Brenden Welch with 84 Lumber at (302) 462-6029 to get tickets. Craig Nantais can also be reached at the JWJ Foundation by calling (302) 537-4213 for more information, including donations for the live and silent auctions.

For more information about the JWJ Foundation, visit the Web site at