New Sponsors Sign on for Fundraiser to Benefit Developmentally Disabled

"Spaghetti Auction" will raise much-needed funds for Gatewood Center, Greensboro and Thomasville, NC group homes.

Greensboro, NC, September 21, 2007 --( Southern Pharmacy Services and SCA Tena have donated $1000 each to become top-level sponsors for a “Spaghetti Auction” dinner and art auction to raise funds for the Gatewood Center and Greensboro and Thomasville Group Homes. The event will take place Monday, November 5, at Café Pasta Grille on State Street in downtown Greensboro.

Southern Pharmacy Services is an independent long-term-care pharmacy in Pink Hill, NC. It services nursing homes, assisted living facilities, family care homes, and group homes across North Carolina and Virginia, including RHA Howell’s Gatewood Center plus Greensboro and Thomasville group homes.

SCA is the world's leading supplier of incontinence products, marketed under the brand name TENA®. Headquartered in Philadelphia, PA, SCA Tena supplies RHA Howell care centers.

“We’re so grateful to have Southern Pharmacy Services and SCA Tena on board,” said Debbie Valentine, RHA events planner, “and we’re looking forward to more sponsors joining them.”

For nearly 30 years, North Carolina’s largest private, not-for-profit provider of residential-based services for developmentally disabled people – RHA Howell -- has operated almost entirely on Medicaid funding. That’s no longer enough. Public funding cannot keep pace with the cost of continued quality care and capital improvements at these centers, including the Gatewood Center, Greensboro Group Homes and Thomasville Group Homes.

So for the first time in its history, RHA Howell is launching a series of community fundraising events. The Triad effort will kick off with the “Spaghetti Auction” at Café Pasta Grille, which will include take-out lunches by day, then cocktails, dinner and an auction of artwork by North Carolina artists and Gatewood residents that evening.

The RHA Howell Care Centers began in 1970 when Irene Howell founded the state’s first intermediate care facility for the mentally retarded in LaGrange, NC, because she couldn’t find what she felt was adequate care for her grandson. As demand for the high level of care and training she provided to infants and young children grew, she established a network of programs across the state to extend support both geographically and over a wider age span. Today, residential and non-residential programs, which support infants to adults, are in Polkton, Charlotte, Greensboro, Greenville, Goldsboro, New Bern, and Winston-Salem.

When Irene Howell retired, she turned her legacy over to RHA Health Services, which she felt shared her compassion for people with disabilities and could offer a wide array of programs and therapy to enhance their quality of life.

That quality is threatened now by inadequate public funding, according to Mark Spano, director of funds development. “We have functioned nearly 30 years without active fundraising and development programs. That is an incredible achievement,” he said. “But the landscape has changed and public funding just will not be enough for us to continue the quality of care, offer competitive pay, and make the needed capital improvements in an organization that serves so many so well.”

The residential and non-residential programs, including those in the Triad area, are now vulnerable to unexpected expenses, the cost of much-need improvements to old buildings, and the rising cost of recruiting and retaining qualified care teams, he added.

The “Spaghetti Auction” is one step towards meeting the Triad centers’ funding needs.

According to Valentine, the “spaghetti” portion of the event is an old tradition at Gatewood. “The staff prepares spaghetti dinners on-site twice a year to raise money,” she explained. “We decided to keep the ‘spaghetti’ in the title of our new event, even though we will be serving a variety of gourmet selections. To kick that idea up a notch, we added the “auction” and an upscale location.”

Tickets are $12 for take-out lunches at Cafe Pasta Grill and $25 for the evening Cocktails & Dinner Art Auction. To purchase tickets and inquire about sponsorship opportunities, contact Debbie Valentine at 919-941-0530; For more information on RHA Howell Care Centers, visit

RHA Howell Care Centers
Kim Weiss, blueplate pr
Debbie Valentine