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‘Evening of Elegance’ to benefit lifetime of achievement for local students

Bessie Smith Hall is the site for “The Evening of Elegance,” when ladies and gentlemen dressed to the nines can dance the night away to help raise funds for local college students in need of financial assistance.

The event, being hosted by nonprofit organization 100 Black Men of Chattanooga, is Nov. 16 from 8 p.m. until midnight.

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100 Black Men of Chattanooga president Erskine Oglesby Jr. would like people to attend the organization’s fundraising “Evening of Elegance” Friday, Nov. 16 at Bessie Smith Hall.

The evening’s featured entertainers are international recording artist Angela Winbush as well as Nashville’s Joe Johnson Band. Winbush, who lives in St. Louis, Mo., has completed work in the past with Janet Jackson. While guests listen to the music, they can fill their plates from a buffet full of food prepared by LeMont’s Catering.

“The Evening of Elegance is held to raise funds to support our Life Academy for Young Men in Hamilton County, the Young Men of Distinction in Walker County and also our college financial assistance program which has provided $380,000 in assistance to this date,” said 100 Black Men of Chattanooga president Erskine Oglesby in regards to the annual fundraiser. “The programs are designed to help young men achieve academic excellence and build strong individual character in order to compete in a multicultural, global society.”

He said the support of donors at the event will help 100 Black Men of Chattanooga fulfill its “Mentor the 100 Way Across a Lifetime” initiative as the group strives to improve the quality of life for local youth and build stronger communities.

“We want to support our college financial assistance program,” said Oglesby. “We give financial assistance to students for four years. We do provide scholarships for young men and young ladies. The assistance is given to students that normally might not have the opportunity to go to college.”

The fundraiser is kicking off the 100 Black Men of Chattanooga Chapter’s 20th anniversary year. Oglesby said he expects to see 250 people in attendance at this year’s ninth annual Evening of Elegance, meant as much to be an intimate “friend-raiser” as a fundraiser. The event venue will showcase tables to seat eight along with plenty of dancing room; the attire is semiformal.

The 100 Black Men of Chattanooga Chapter has 33 members including lawyers, doctors, judges, entrepreneurs and more.

“Programmatically, we focus on helping kids achieve academic skills, academic excellence, character development, develop positive social skills and work on community service,” said Oglesby. “Students we work with are required to do community service, do college tours and go on cultural field trips. By blending these things together we prepare them for a multicultural society and to make good decisions in life.”

He said the idea is to provide the students with opportunities. Group members act as mentors and help students with ACT and SAT preparations and through a robotics program too.

“We focus on four areas of economic development including health and wellness, mentoring and education,” said Oglesby. “We develop programs for youth centered around those areas. I just love helping people.”

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