Richard Wiens, The Triplicate

It's almost time for the 41st Silver Ball, an annual gala event featuring a catered dinner, dancing to the music of a good band, and two auctions of fine quality items.

The object, as always, is to raise funds for Community Assistance League charitable work in this area.

The ball, scheduled for March 21 at the Cultural Center, is a high-ticket item. But so is the C.A.L. annual list of projects.

C.A.L. President Alice Miller and her crew are concerned about the current national fiscal problems, which also reach Del Norte County, and the organization's burgeoning demands on its services.

C.A.L. was founded some 50-odd years ago to provide assistance to area crippled children. For a time, it became associated with the national Easter Seal program.

"But we finally decided to go it alone again, and have been successful," Miller explained in a recent interview.

The group donates in excess of $80,000 annually, and "for the past several years," she said, ball proceeds haven't been enough.

"We have had to develop other fund-raising events to help out."

A recent cookbook project and flower arranging classes are among them. But the popular ball remains the major source.

C.A.L is unique in that it has no paid employees to help in its wide-ranging list of projects.

To handle these is a board of volunteer directors, currently 18 in all, and an extra collection of public-spirited citizens who help the hard-working board fill out a series of 10 to 12 committees as needed. For example, all those wonderful auction itemsare contributed by board members and the business community.

Among its 11 main categories of charitable concern are local and Eureka hospitals' equipment needs, Evergreen Lodge and a variety of medical concerns ranging from equipment for College of the Redwoods High Tech Center to funding out-of-area expenses for specialized treatment not available here.

LifeLine, Meals on Wheels, Rural Doctor Program and much, much more, receive support from C.A.L., such as the Campership program and adaptive equipment for special needs by handicapped persons.

The list of board members reflects changes and growth in C.A.L. operations. But charter members Jean Yarbrough, Ann Gargaetas and Emogene Westbrook are still active.

So is Pat Maris, who came on board some 45 years or so ago.

For information on this group and/or the Silver Ball this year, contact Treasurer Jackie Peel at 464-4914.

Community Assistance League's office is in the old KCRE building at 415 Highway 101 South in Crescent City.

Ann Terrill Garlick is a veteran, award-winning journalist and a native Californian. She spent nearly 23 years as one of the editors at the Orange County Register.