Joy & Gratitude Abounds at 2022 Annual Dinner
There was a western flair to the evening as guests sported cowboy hats and boots at our 2022 “Joy & Gratitude” Dinner on Sunday, October 2. More than 250 guests came out to support the Center and enjoy each other’s company at the McClinch Family Center at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Trumbull.
Following the Western theme, tables were decorated with arrangements of sunflowers and zinnias and blue bandanas for napkins. An active Dinner Committee secured a variety of items for the Live and Silent Auctions, donated by vendors from all over Fairfield County. “The whole event was a wonderful group effort on behalf of a great cause,” said Margaret Smith of Darien, who, with her husband Dan, chaired the event. “I’m so glad that Dan and I were part of it.” View photos of the evening.
Several participants from the Center’s Adult Program attended, as well as three students from the Academy who attended for the first time. Anna said she liked getting dressed up, and was pleased to see her pastor, Fr. Krzysztof Kuczynski of St. Lawrence Parish in Shelton, at the event. Philip and Vinny both enjoyed socializing with their teachers and meeting other guests. Philip summarized: “Having fun is always good.”
Rev. Robert Kinnally, Vicar General and Pastor of St. Aloyisus Parish, offered the invocation. In remarks following dinner, Executive Director Helen Burland compared Saint Catherine Center to a three-legged stool, supported by a dedicated staff, families and participants, and friends and supporters of the Center. “If any one of the legs is shorter or longer, the stool will not stand,” she said, offering thanks to all the guests and sponsors, the Dinner Committee, and Fr. Joseph Marcello and St. Catherine of Siena Parish for providing the venue.
Two individuals from Fairfield were honored at the event: Anne McCrory, Chief Legal and Real Estate Officer for the Diocese, and Charles “Jerry” Hemenway, pediatrician and Center Board member. In presenting him with the Volunteer Service Award, Helen thanked Hemenway for offering his “considerable pediatric knowledge and community associations” to the Center for more than 20 years, and for being a “steadfast and ardent advocate for children with special needs.”
Anne received the Leadership Award for her role as a key resource and advisor to the Center. Helen thanked her for her “quiet, steady support” and guidance in the incorporation of the Center, ensuring that its growth was accompanied by proper governance and organization. “We are so grateful for her professionalism, compassion, and unwavering support.”
Board members Michael LaBella and Tony Minopoli took on the role of auctioneers for the Live Auction and the Call for Charity, when the generosity of the crowd was shown as donors raised their bid numbers to support the Center’s programs.
Bishop Frank Caggiano could not attend the event, but sent his greetings. “Every day, St. Catherine Center gives witness to the dignity of all God’s children. These young people…have gifts to give us and our community that perhaps you and I don’t have: an innocence of heart, a generosity of spirit, and a deep sense of gratitude for the little things that are done for them.”
“Tonight is a reminder of all that is good around us,” Helen said. “Thank you for bringing your joy to share.”