Freeport White Nights gala adds online auction

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FREEPORT — Freeport Community Services will be holding its largest annual fundraiser, the White Nights “Keep The Lights On” Gala as it has for the past 20 years.

The event will be Saturday, Jan. 28 at 5:30 p.m. at the Freeport Community Center. Tickets can be purchased by calling Kim Hudak at 865-3985, ext. 202 or at

The mission of Freeport Community Services “to enrich lives, connect neighbors and help those in need in Freeport and Pownal” has remained steady in recent years, and the White Nights Gala has also been a consistent source of income for the organization. Some changes have been taking place, however. Paula Paladino, formerly manager of Homeless Initiatives and Special Projects coordinator at MaineHousing, was recently hired as executive director of FCS and began her duties Dec. 12. Paladin’s career includes over 25 years of “both government and nonprofit experience in social programs including child welfare, mental health and homeless services,” according to a statement published on the FCS website.

Also new to the FCS staff is Nancy Trottier, who is at the reins of this year’s White Nights Gala as the Events & Communications coordinator, a position FCS created when they hired her. “They’re growing and they wanted to expand and create and the position, so I’m it,” Trottier said.

The main event of the fundraiser is the auction. New this year is an online component; bidders will be able to compete for items at the event’s live and silent auctions during an online auction. Each of the three types of auctions will feature exclusive items.

Trottier hopes the online auction will reach more bidders. “This gives the new trends of people online the opportunity to bid if they can’t be there in person.”

In a statement on the organization’s website, the online auction will be open from Jan. 25-31 via the nonprofit online bidding site

The items are donated by local businesses, members of the community, and the staff, board and volunteers at FCS. “There’s been a pretty wide range of generous support so we’ve been very lucky this year,” Trottier said. “We think that we have probably 100, or a little over 100 items.”

The White Nights Gala, along with the FCS thrift store, is a major source of community-sourced funding. “All the proceeds from this event go to the programs and services FCS provides,” Trottier said, “They have a food pantry, they provide camp scholarships for children every year, fuel assistance for the Freeport/Pownal community. All of the proceeds go to those organizations.”