Odessa Arts kicked off its annual Mark Tenniswood Volunteer of the Year gala in style with a Black and White Ball on Sunday at the MCM Eleganté Hotel. The black ties, bowties, music and dancing didn’t disappoint alongside a special ceremony to recognize volunteers across the city.

More than 200 people turned out for the event, which raised money for the Odessa Spire public art project, a renovation of the old Cloth World Sign off Eighth Street.

“Odessa Arts is very happy to be able to honor so many volunteers this year,” said Odessa Arts Executive Director Randy Ham. “It speaks to the dedication and passion each volunteer has for our community.”

Ham was emotional when referencing the namesake of the event — prominent arts advocate and local theater director Mark Tenniswood. Tenniswood died in a 2016 car crash.

“These awards embody the spirit of our dedicated friend,” Ham said before the crowd. “We can think of no better way to honor his memory than with the Volunteer of the Year Awards.”

The awards ceremony was underwritten by Sondra and Toby Eoff. In all, 17 community volunteers from nonprofits ranging from West Texas Public Radio to the Permian Playhouse walked away with honors as volunteers.

“I’ve volunteered for many years in Odessa and it is always special to get recognition for the work you do,” said Liz Roberson, a Volunteer of the Year Honoree from the Ellen Noël Art Museum. “I think the way they have done it this year with such a nice event makes it even more meaningful. We feel more special.”

The event also honored former Odessa Mayor Lorraine Perryman, who received the Friend of the Arts award.

“I am so honored and so surprised,” Perryman said. “It’s been a pleasure for me to love the arts, be involved in the arts and be inspired by the arts.”

In her acceptance speech, Perryman credited her mother for her love of the arts. Nancy Chambers was one of the founders of the Globe Theater of the Great Southwest.

“I was inspired by my mother, and I know she is smiling down right now knowing I continue the dedication that she instilled in me,” Perryman said.

Live music and dancing kept the event going well into the night, with décor provided by Black Tulip Design.

“We need to grow this every year in Odessa so we continue to become a community that expects and loves art,” Perryman said.

Volunteer of the Year Honorees: Peggy Caddell, Jane Boles, Lindi Bridges, Kaylee Cochran, John Dzubinski, Monica Gallivan, Mark Germer, Shawna John-Garcia, Marc Kondrup, Susan Leshnower, Dr. Antonio Moreno, Liliana Marquez, Deisy Olivares, Liz Roberson, Loretta Walker, Eric Baker and Brenda Garner.