Member Profile: New York City Gala
Hurricane Doesn’t Dampen Bread for the World’s New York City Gala
The ninth annual Bread for the World New York City Gala and Reception took on special significance as guests gathered in mid-November. Two weeks earlier, Hurricane Sandy had pounded the East Coast, flooding much of lower Manhattan.
In his introductory remarks, John Driscoll, the event advisory board co-chair, reminded attendees that tonight "we're all New Yorkers." He noted that the emergency food aid dispensed to families — many of whom lost everything to the storm — was powerful evidence of Bread for the World's impact.
Even with continuing power outages and other difficulties, 150 people came to the Union League Club in Manhattan on Nov. 15 to hear from David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World; Ambassador Tony Hall, executive director of the Alliance to End Hunger; and special guest Dr. Rajiv Shah, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
"Ending hunger is possible," stated Beckmann emphatically during his remarks. Many guests later said that his declaration presented a reality that they had never imagined. Statistics show that worldwide hunger has been cut in half since the 1990s, said Beckmann. These are promising numbers, but work remains to be done.
Advisory board co-chair Terence Meehan introduced a video message from actor Martin Sheen who encouraged those in the room to engage in advocacy on behalf of hungry people. Following Sheen's words, film producer Lori Silverbush joined Meehan on stage to introduce the trailer for A Place at the Table — a new documentary film project produced by Participant Media, the team behind An Inconvenient Truth; Food, Inc.; and Lincoln. The new film—set to debut in theaters in March 2013 — investigates hunger experienced by millions of Americans by documenting the lives of three struggling families. Bread for the World's 2013 Offering of Letters, also titled "A Place at the Table," will coincide with the release of the film.
Dr. Shah offered the keynote address for the evening. He congratulated Bread for the World for its commitment to advocacy, which he said has paid incredible dividends for vulnerable people across the United States and around the world—in spite of partisan battles and political distractions. Dr. Shah spoke about USAID’s new model of development, referencing the global food security initiative, Feed the Future, for which Bread for the World has been a strong advocate. He remarked on its ambitious goals to end hunger, eliminate extreme poverty, and ensure that children and their mothers have healthy and fulfilling lives.
Dr. Shah reported that, "in the past few years we’ve seen the momentum build and real results begin to emerge — including 8.8 million children reached through nutrition programs, and 1.8 million people who adopted improved technologies or management practices."
The event drew a strong turnout and raised over $800,000. "I thought the event was wonderful," said longtime Bread supporter Adele Keogh.
In addition to the luminaries, other longtime Bread for the World members gathered for the evening’s activities: students from a local Sacred Heart high school and from Columbia University and Fordham University as well as leaders in finance, health care, academia, and the arts.