When Catalina Rueda, 30, attended last year’s Singles for Switchboard Bachelor Auction, she went with no expectations. But things changed quickly when Brock Metcalf, 30, walked on stage.
Rueda was the winning bidder, paying $575 for Metcalf. “When he looked down to see who won, he was pleasantly surprised,” she said.
Rueda’s generous contribution went to Switchboard of Miami, a nonprofit organization that runs a 24-hour suicide hotline.
“When you get a group of professional women in a room, talking about what’s fun, interesting and different, you come up with some crazy ideas,” said Erbi Blanco-True, 50, chair of Switchboard of Miami’s Women’s Leadership Council. “We had a lot of single women on the council, and we thought it would be fun and a great way for single professionals to meet guys.”
Fast forward to 2014, and the Women’s Leadership Council is preparing for its third annual Singles for Switchboard Bachelor Auction, which will take place 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday at the Conrad Miami Hotel, 1395 Brickell Ave. Admission is $55 for online reservations or $85 at the door. Attendees will be treated to hors d'oeuvres, desserts, wine and other drinks.
Last year’s auction raised $60,000. The highest bidder paid $1,850 for a bachelor.
“Our goal for this year is $80,000,” said Blanco-True. “We typically have between 150 to 200 bidders.”
To reach that goal, Michael Garofola, 33, who participated in ABC’s “The Bachelorette” Season 9, will be up for auction as this year’s “Celebrity Bachelor.” Garofola, a then New York-based lawyer, is looking to try his luck again while raising money for Switchboard of Miami.
Chosen by the Women’s Leadership Council and Brickell Magazine’s selection process, Garofola will be one of 50 bachelors hand-picked from 80 applicants.
“We concentrated on professionals and guys who have been doing something good for the community,” said Blanco-True. “We tried to have different ranges of ages, races, ethnicities and professions, so that there is a little bit for everyone.”
Among the bachelors will be Joey Gutierrez, 26. A recent alumnus from Florida International University with a bachelor’s degree in international business, Gutierrez now works as a managing partner at YottaSKY, a professional creative collaboration of entrepreneurs that finances small start-up companies.
“I thought it would be a great cause to get involved in, and it’s a fun event to get to network and meet some new people,” said Gutierrez. “I guess when you are up on stage, it’s awkward but it looks like fun.”
Within the crowd of guests will be Abuela Tere, Gutierrez’s grandmother, who alongside his family and friends, will be cheering for his grandson as he gets on stage.
“The whole family will be there, and we are going to have a good time,” said Gutierrez. “They’re really excited.”
When asked how much he would like to sell for, Gutierrez said laughingly, “I’m not sure how deep their pockets can go, but at least over $1,000.”
The auction will be hosted by WFLC-FM 97.3’s morning show personality Kevin Rolston and WSVN Channel 7’s co-anchor Diana Diaz.
Meanwhile, Rueda, who is about to celebrate her one-year anniversary with Metcalf, continues to reap the rewards from her winning bid.
“It’s funny, but now that I am doing my taxes, Brock is tax deductible since my donation was to a charity,” she said.