Candles were glowing, tables were set, and the great Cathedral of St. John the Divine began to fill with people. On November 21, over five hundred guests gathered at the Annual Tribute Dinner to enjoy food and music in support of Episcopal Charities’ partner programs, collectively raising over $900,000 to support New Yorkers in need.
The evening started with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres while patrons greeted old friends and mingled with new ones. As an organ prelude began, they made their way to dozens of glittering tables in the center of the Cathedral for a grand dinner. Even in the midst of this lovely gala though, the guests never forgot their purpose for being there: raising money for those who need it most. Martin Sullivan, Tribute Dinner Chair and emcee for the evening, explained, “The challenges confronting families remain great, with all of our feeding programs experiencing a significant increase in demand due to the recent recession and high unemployment.” Bill Donaldson, one of the evening’s honorees, also touched on the recent cuts to food stamps (SNAP), which place an additional strain on resources.
Besides serving hungry people, Episcopal Charities also funds several youth programs and we were honored to hear a graduate of one of those programs speak at the dinner. Eighteen-year-old Kevin Vidal talked about the Grace Church GO Project’s significant role in helping him grow from a child who was struggling to learn English into a dedicated, successful student who now attends the New York City College of Technology. “The GO Project helped me realize that no obstacle is too great,” he said, “that even when you struggle in school things can get better with the right support.” Episcopal Charities is proud to make that support possible. Watch the video of his speech here.
To bookend the evening, words of faith and prayer were offered by the Right Reverend Andrew Dietsche (Bishop of the Diocese of New York), the Very Reverend James Kowalski (Dean of the Cathedral) and the Reverend Yamily Bass Choate (Vicar of Iglesia Memorial de San Andres in Yonkers). Each of them invited moments of reflection about service and thanksgiving for the contributions given that evening. As Mother Yamily proclaimed, “We know that each dollar testifies to the love of God in a very practical and direct way for the community.”
Because generous donations from the Episcopal Charities Board and an allocation from the Diocese cover all overhead costs, every dollar raised at the dinner went directly towards serving those in need. Thank you to the Tribute Dinner Committee and our honorees for working tirelessly to make this event a success, and thank you to all who attended in support of Episcopal Charities’ programs.