By Meg Ducey
Director of Development and Marketing
The ballroom at the Scottish Rite Masonic Center on North Charles Street literally sparkled on Saturday, September 20, 2014, as the Franciscan Center hosted our 3rd Annual Voices from the Heart Gala. Friends and supporters gathered for an evening of beautiful music, good food and fellowship – and to experience the warmth and joy that comes from helping men, women and children in need in our community.
The event raised more than $53,000 to support the work and mission of the Franciscan Center, including nearly $14,000 in gifts and pledges to our “Fund-a-Cause” auction. Thanks to your kindness, we will be able to replace the outdated computers in our Technical Resource Center – and
continue our Wednesday evening “Community Dinner” program through next summer. What a beautiful blessing!! Special thanks to our Master of Ceremonies, WBAL Reporter and Anchor Robert Lang, who served as auctioneer.
To begin the evening, Sister Eileen Quinn of the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi spoke eloquently about what it means to be Franciscan in her reflection on “The Spirit of St. Francis: Goodness in Action.” In her remarks, Sister Eileen shared how this spirit animates the Franciscan Center’s ministry, and how it is reflected in the kindness of our supporters, volunteers and staff who make this ministry possible.
“This is the primary mission and passion of the Franciscan Center,” she said, “to be a welcoming, healing space where goodness abounds. The Center is a place where vulnerability will not be taken advantage of, but becomes an occasion for dignity and compassion.”
Sister’s remarks were the perfect introduction to our “Spirit of St. Francis Award” presentation and our 2014 recipient, Mr. Bill Knott, whose dedication and selfless service to those less fortunate exemplify what it means to be Franciscan.
Congratulations, Bill, and thank you for your many years of partnership in the Franciscan Center’s ministry! Bill’s award was presented by Mr. Tom Phelan of Chesapeake Employers’ Insurance Company, our 2013 Spirit of St. Francis Award recipient.
Former Franciscan Center client Betty Wright held the crowd spellbound as she spoke from the heart about the profound impact the Center had in her life at a time of crisis – a time when she had nowhere else to turn. This past year, Betty returned to the Center as a volunteer and intern as part of her Masters curriculum at Sojourner Douglas College, eager to give back for the blessings she had received. We’re so proud of you, Betty!
Of course, a highlight of the evening was the fabulous musical performance in two acts by internationally-recognized vocalist and performer Emily Righter and her accompanist Eric Clark, who warmed our hearts with their program of timeless favorites. We marveled at how Emily’s vocals captured so beautifully the spirit of the Franciscan Center – which is love – and the joy of serving those less fortunate. As a former volunteer at the Center, Emily has experienced firsthand the very special feeling that comes from, as she put it, “serving the poor, the people who really need just love.”
Special thanks to all of our sponsors, donors, committee members and friends who helped to make the Franciscan Center’s 3rd Annual Voices from the Heart Gala our best ever. You can check out pictures from the event at www.fcbmore.org/events/gala.
Mark your calendar and plan to join us on Saturday, September 19, 2015 for our 4th Annual Voices from the Heart Gala! Details to follow soon.