Serve & Connect Announces 5th Annual Gala

A celebration of excellence in community policing, partnerships, & changemakers

COLUMBIA, S.C.— Serve & Connect has announced that their fifth annual gala and fundraiser will be held virtually this year on Friday, November 13, at 7:30 in the evening. Tickets will go on sale on September 8 and will be available for purchase at https://serveandconnect.net/celebrate.

This year marks five years since Officer Gregory Alia was killed in the line of duty, and it marks a significant change for Serve & Connect’s annual gala and fundraiser. The event will take on a new theme, Illuminight, that will not only honor the positive work being done in our communities today but will be a beacon of hope for the work that can be done in the future. This premier celebration of excellence in community policing, partnerships, and changemakers will shine a light on many of the ways, large and small, that police and community are working together to make our world a safer, healthier, and happier place for all. In past years, the event has drawn over 350 law enforcement leaders, community champions, and change agents each year from across the state and as it goes virtual this year, the reach will go even further.


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“Our 5th annual gala is all about celebrating the changemakers in our world, those who are going above and beyond to make our communities safer and happier places to live,” said Kassy Alia Ray, founder of Serve & Connect. “Consistent with this message, we have reimagined the event as Illuminight to ‘illuminate’ the change that is possible when we stand together.”

Nominations for the 5th Annual Officer Gregory Alia Award for excellence in community service are now open. This prestigious award recognizes an outstanding officer who demonstrates a commitment to serve his/her community with respect and compassion; one who goes above the call of duty to ensure that members of the community are protected, cared for, and feel valued; one who treats all members of the community as equal, and who employs their role with thoughtfulness and tact; and who through everyday interactions builds a safer community for all.

Nominations are also officially open for our inaugural Change Maker Award. This award recognizes the unsung heroes who are going above and beyond to serve their neighbors in communities throughout South Carolina. The Change Maker award will recognize a community leader who demonstrates a commitment to serving his/her community with respect and compassion; one who goes above and beyond to understand the needs of others; one who works diligently to build bridges with diverse groups, including law enforcement, to connect resources; and one who creates opportunities for understanding, trust, and building relationships. This award is open to any community leader in South Carolina.

Illuminight is an evening to celebrate those who make a difference in our communities, alongside a virtual silent auction to raise funds for Serve & Connect. The funds raised at this event will go towards Serve & Connect’s overall mission of igniting positive change through police-community partnerships. Serve & Connect believes that when police and community come together, the partnerships formed can ignite improvements in well-being for everyone. Ticket holders will have the option to add on a Gala at Home package to their ticket purchase so that they can host their own tables at home with friends and family to create a unique experience for this year’s event. The Gala at Home package will feature food by Southern Way Catering and a selection of wine to pair with the menu.

The City of Forest Acres is the presenting sponsor of this year’s Illuminight. Additional sponsorship opportunities for Illuminight are available. For more information on the event or how to become a sponsor, please visit https://serveandconnect.net/celebrate or email info@serveandconnect.net.

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