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Gordon: Carroll County’s ’unending and selfless support’ shown again at Chocolate Ball

Last Saturday, Carroll County residents started their February off with an evening no chocoholic could pass up. It was a night filled with chocolate martinis, gourmet hors d’oeuvres, chocolate desserts, dancing and memories. The event was the perfect way to start off the countdown to Valentine’s Day, but more importantly the 300 guests in attendance were supporting something far more meaningful in our community.

The inaugural Chocolate Ball was held on Feb. 14, 2009 and benefited the Carroll County Public Schools Education Foundation. In 2012, the Foundation was closed and the event was gifted to Carroll County Youth Service Bureau by the school system.

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To this day, CCYSB shares a portion of the event proceeds with CCPS’s student services department’s student emergency fund, in memory of Dr. Chuck Ecker, who worked with Andie Luchini to bring the event to fruition.

Each year, the event offers guests a evening to mingle with friends and create new relationships as they enjoy gourmet hors d’oeuvres and a buffet by Liberatore’s of Eldersburg, the county’s foremost balloon “pop” raffle, their famous chocolate martini fountain, a photo booth, and decadent chocolate desserts by JeannieBird Baking Company. The event includes both silent and live auctions, and a live jazz band with dancing. This year, through sponsorships, ticket sales, raffles and auctions, CCYB raised approximately $90,000 before expenses to support their mission.

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Carroll County Youth Service Bureau (CCYSB) is an outpatient behavioral health clinic providing mental health and substance services. They are licensed by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH), accredited by the Council for the Accreditation for Rehabilitative Facilities (CARF) and certified by the Department of Juvenile Services (DJS). Carroll County Youth Service Bureau has provided outpatient services in Carroll County since 1972 and has grown into a multi-disciplinary behavioral health practice that offers outpatient treatment options.

Therapists utilize a family-systems approach that incorporates the child, adult and family within their community and recognizes and values their impact on one another. This approach reinforces individual and family strengths, addresses identified needs, and utilizes community resources. CCYSB works to raise awareness and educate the public about mental illnesses and draws attention to suicide, which can be precipitated by some mental illnesses.

Additionally, they strive to reduce the negative attitudes and misconceptions that can surround mental illness. They accomplish this by disseminating information and interacting with the community to improve the lives of people with mental health needs. CCYSB also provides trainings and written materials to help clients become informed regarding mental health disorders, and support them in becoming more effective advocates for themselves and others. As a community, we can end the stigma associated with mental health treatment and ensure that Carroll County residents have access to the services they and their families need.

“I am so grateful to live in such a community full of selfless individuals and organizations — each has been a blessing and makes this annual event such a huge success! This includes the vendors I work with each year, who are now treasured friends. The words ‘thank you’ will never be enough to explain how appreciative I am for everyone’s unending and selfless support to benefit others,” said Luchini, director of donor relations, marketing, events and community outreach for CCYSB.

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With the Chocolate Ball of 2020 in the history books and a raving success it’s not too early to mark your calendars for this sold out event. The 2021 Chocolate Ball will be held on Saturday, Feb. 6, 2021, and next year’s theme will be the Queen of Hearts. Individuals interested in the next event should contact Luchini by phone at 443-244-8139 or email her at Luchini@ccysb.org.

Tom Gordon writes from Westminster. He writes every other Saturday. Email him at tgordonwrites@gmail.com.

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