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Sugar House Journal

Sugar House Rotary Chili Open benefits Utah charities

Feb 05, 2020 13h45 ● By Jenniffer Wardell

The silent auction has a variety of prize opportunities, including gift baskets. (Photo courtesy the Rotary Club of Sugar House)

By Jenniffer Wardell | [email protected]

This chili helps a lot of people. 

The Rotary Club of Sugar House is making that happen with their 29th Annual Chili Open, set for Feb. 8 from 5 to 9 p.m. at the Little America Hotel. The event, which features dinner and a silent auction, raises between $150,000 and $200,000 for Utah charities focused on helping women and children. 

“Some of the charities get sizeable checks,” said Sugar House Rotary Club President Errol EerNisse. “Some of them represent 30 to 40% of the charities’ annual budget.” 

The name of the event reflects its origins, which originally included a golf tournament at Wheeler Farm. The golf was intended to be played in the snow, with colored golf balls and Astroturf for the tees. 

“If you lost your ball, you were on your own,” EerNisse said.

Though less snowy winters eventually ended the golf tournament, the club still wanted to help local charities. These days they mostly do that through the silent auction, which includes tables and silent auction items sponsored by both the Rotary Club and the participating charities. Many of the items are gift baskets, and the Rotary Club asks that the value of the included items or gift certificates total at least $100.

“The charities get to keep everything they raise (from their tables and items),” he said. “The Rotary Club keeps 10% of what they raise for expenses, then distributes the rest evenly among the groups.”  

Many of the charities are recommended by individual club members, though there is a certain criteria they need to meet. 

“They have to be big enough to fund a $5,000 sponsorship, and have enough staff to put together silent auction items,” he said. “Most of the charities have been there ever since I joined the club.” 

This year’s participating charities include one new charity, Eye Care 4 Kids. It also includes four charities that are returning – People Helping People, the Carmen B. Pingree Autism Center of Learning, Survivor Wellness (formerly Cancer Wellness House), and Teen Challenge: 180 Ministries for Girls. 

Eye Care 4 Kids

The charity, now in its 18th year, provides professional eye exams, vision screenings, and eyeglasses to children whose families can’t afford it. They do this through family clinics, community clinics, school-based clinics, and mobile clinics. They offer services in Utah, Nevada, Arizona and New Jersey, as well as arranging international trips. The main clinic is located at 6911 S. State St. in Midvale. 

People Helping People

This employment program is designed to help low-income women succeed in the workplace, thereby improving their lives and the lives of their families. The program offers educational workshops on subjects such as navigating the job search, the application process and flexible thinking. They also offer coaching and mentoring, starting from getting ready for the job search to networking once you’re in the job. Their Salt Lake office is located at 205 N. 400 West.

Carmen B. Pingree Autism Center of Learning

The center offers educational intervention for children with autism. They do this through educational preschool programs, childhood programs featuring ABA Therapy, and adolescent programs for those ages 13 to 21. They also offer an inclusive community preschool, and are planning on opening an adult center this coming June. The center is located at 780 S. Guardsman Way in Salt Lake. 

Survivor Wellness

Also known as Cancer Wellness House, the nonprofit offers free and low-cost health, emotional, and support services to people with cancer. This includes everything from acupuncture and massage therapy to support groups and individual, couple and family counseling. The organization also promotes activities that allows people with cancer to spend time with community members in a fun environment. The house is located in downtown Salt Lake. 

Teen Challenge: 180 Ministries for Girls

Located in Tooele, 180 Ministries is a 15-month residential recovery program for troubled girls ages 12-17. The faith-based program is an offshoot of Teen Challenge of the Rocky Mountains, which focuses on substance abuse recovery. 

The social and silent auction begins at 5 p.m., with dinner starting at 7 p.m. Tickets are $95 and include one drink coupon. A table for 10 is $950. To register for the event or find out more about the participating charities, visit