Brattleboro Retreat to host fundraising gala

BRATTLEBORO — As a hospital founded 178 years ago with a $10,000 bequest, the Brattleboro Retreat is a testament to how philanthropy can chart the course of history. It is with both a nod to this history and an eye toward the future that the Brattleboro Retreat hosts a gala event on Saturday, Sept. 15.

The Lawton Hall 100th Anniversary Gala will serve to commemorate the centennial anniversary of the Retreat's iconic Lawton Hall. The event will also honor community leader Larry Cassidy and launch a major fundraising initiative aimed at securing a successful future for the Retreat.

Tickets are now on sale for the Gala. Appetizers and drinks on the Retreat's Great Lawn will begin at 5:30 p.m., followed by dinner and entertainment inside the historic Lawton Hall.

The primary purpose of the event is to officially launch the Brattleboro Retreat Endowment Fund, which was established earlier this year to generate income for the Retreat's mission and programs in perpetuity.

“The Brattleboro Retreat started with a charitable gift over 175 years ago,” said CEO and President Dr. Robert Simpson, “yet over the course of almost two centuries, the hospital has never formally established an endowment fund. Today, we are in a position of strength to take this important step in our philanthropy program and focus on planning for a successful future.”

In the months leading up to the Lawton Hall 100th Anniversary Gala, the Brattleboro Retreat's staff, leadership and trustees have been meeting with supporters and with just a month before the gala event, these efforts have already secured more than $50,000 in charitable gifts to seed the Endowment Fund.

Proceeds from the Lawton Hall gala will also benefit the Brattleboro Retreat Endowment Fund. Additionally, a $25,000 challenge grant from the Thomas Thomson Trust is underwriting the endowment initiative.

In addition to highlighting the launch of the Endowment Fund, the 2012 Anna Marsh Award will be presented to honoree Larry Cassidy.

Named for the founder of the Brattleboro Retreat, the Anna Marsh Award was established in 2009 to recognize individuals for their advocacy on behalf of people with mental illness, addiction, or both. Cassidy served on the Retreat's Board of Trustees from 2004 to 2011. He stepped down last fall to focus on Vermont's recovery in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene.

“As our friends in the community have seen, the Retreat has experienced a tremendous turnaround in the past five years,” said Simpson. “A key part of this transformation was the overhaul of our admissions process and few people were more instrumental to this success than Larry, who brought incredible insight and dedication to helping us redesign admissions. In the spirit of the Anna Marsh Award, Larry truly exemplifies advocacy for those struggling with mental health and addictions issues.”

According to the Gala's Event Committee Chair, Bette Abrams, the Lawton Hall 100th Anniversary Gala will be a simple, yet elegant affair.

“We are really looking forward to celebrating with our friends, to thanking our supporters, to honoring Larry's contributions to the Retreat,” said Abrams. “It's going to be a fun and special night for our guests.”

Fewer than 150 seats are available for the evening. This limited seating will create a more intimate atmosphere than the Retreat's 175th Celebration in 2009, which made a splash in the community with its enormous tent and hundreds of guests.

“We aren't looking to re-create the 175th,” said Abrams, “but we do promise a fabulous party and we aren't ruling out the possibility of a few surprises!”

Tickets are available through the Retreat's Office of Development for $100 per person. Seating for this event is extremely limited and tickets are expected to sell out soon.

Donors also have the option of becoming “Inaugural Donors” to the Endowment Fund by contributing a gift of $1,000 or greater. Inaugural Donors are invited to attend the Gala as guests of the Retreat (subject to availability of seating) and will be recognized with a permanent plaque and mention in future Brattleboro Retreat publications.

To purchase tickets or make a gift to the Endowment Fund, contact Biz Dana at the Brattleboro Retreat Office of Development at 802-258-4318 or [email protected]. For more information about the Lawton Hall 100th Anniversary Gala, visit

Subscribe to the newsletter for weekly updates