Heroes For Hope Gala 2017
A lot of hard work, preparation and most importantly love, went into this year’s Heroes For Hope Gala. The Hope For Youth Fundraiser took place on October 26th at the Coral House in Baldwin, NY which was beautifully decorated with accents of Hope For Youths colors, purple and yellow, everywhere you looked. This year’s gala was held in order to support and provide specialized services for the youngest children in Long Island who have been placed in foster care after experiencing traumatic events.
The needs of this population was taken into great consideration while planning for the event, each of the tables contained centerpieces made of different toys that will be used in Hope For Youths new child-parent Psychotherapy program, which will support and strengthen the relationship between a child and their caregiver(s). These toys, as well as homemade calming jars made over the course of many weeks, were incorporated into the gala to highlight and be sensitive to the unique needs of this population.
Aside from these thoughtful details, a delicious cocktail hour and dinner were served, and guests were encouraged to dance to the music being played by the DJ. The universal enjoyment of dance was displayed as everyone from young children to older adults were on the dance floor exchanging both moves and smiles.
If guests did not fancy dancing any longer, tables outlining the perimeter of the ballroom were filled with raffle and silent auction items waiting for people to take their chances at winning. An assortment of over fifty raffle items were available, the quantity and variety of which allowed there to be something for everyone. In addition to these, many silent auction items were displayed and included items such as tickets to sporting events, concerts, parks, many establishment gift certificates, and much more.
The night was filled with many wonderful speeches from many wonderful people including Hope for Youths Executive Director Dr. Hegarty; Director of foster care and preventive services, Irma Edington; and Hope For Youths Board President Sandra Radna, all of whom have done amazing things for Hope For Youth over the years. We also heard from Nicole Rusell, the co-founder and executive director of Precious Dreams Foundation, which personally delivers bedside comfort items to children in foster care, and Emmet Dinnis, the Chief Marketing Officer and partner of Sundial Brands, which creates products for skin and hair that are traditionally ignored by mass market companies.
Hope For Youth is extremely thankful for the commitment and hard work put forth by our foster parents, which is why each year at the gala we deem it important to recognize all the amazing things these foster parents are able to do and provide for our youth and award the title of Foster Parent of the Year to a selected individual. This year a foster parent of nearly 6 years, Syreeta Mchugh, was recognized and thanked for welcoming six children into her heart and home. She truly treats children that are placed with her as if they are her own and makes sure they feel as if they are home. Syreeta herself is from a family of foster parents and, therefore, is able to provide a unique understanding of the needs of her foster children, causing them to excel greatly under her supervision.
In addition to the award of Foster Parent of the Year, Hope For Youth also awarded the Elizabeth Bass Golding Award to Cathleen Trigg-Jones, a woman who has achieved the many titles of Emmy Award-winning journalist, actress, author, wife, mother, motivational speaker and entrepreneur. Her presence and speech really resonated with the audience members as she spoke of her experience as a child in the foster care system. Today she stands, protects and empowers other women and children, especially those most abused and neglected, through her charity organization Trigg House. Her message to those at the gala, especially those currently in foster care, was that not only is there a way out, but that extraordinary dreams can be born out of profound trauma. After her speech many youth took it upon themselves to come up to her, share their experiences and take pictures with her; it was at this moment that it became clear her message was well received and inspired many youth at the gala.
The night was concluded with a visit from the popular children’s cartoon character “Doc” McStuffins who teaches important lessons through her show. A recent episode focused on the topic of adoption and delivered such in a way that was easy to understand and relatable to children who may be in a similar situation. “Doc” McStuffins, led in hand by children, visited each of the tables at the gala carrying a basket full of knitted superhero dolls encouraging guests to be a superhero for Hope For Youth’s foster care children. Guests of all ages were excited by the presence of one of their favorite cartoon characters, eager to take pictures with her and donate one last time.
Overall, the Heroes For Hope Gala was a night filled with good times, happiness and support, all of which was made possible thanks to Hope For Youths dedicated employees, volunteers, interns and generous donors. Thank you to all who helped make this event possible and the support you provided in making our new program a reality.