32nd Annual Awards Dinner Recap
On October 28, 2013, Tri-County Scholarship Fund celebrated its 32nd annual awards dinner. Considered by many present to be one of the best Tri-County dinners so far, it featured honorees Sr. Francis Raftery S.C., Walter and Irene Crum and John Parry. Sr. Francis had recently completed a highly successful 16 year tenure as President of the College of St. Elizabeth in Convent Station, NJ. Walter and Irene Crum, together, have more than 50 years of teaching young men at Oratory Prep in Summit, NJ. John Parry is the CEO of Solix, Inc. in Parsippany, NJ based business process outsourcing provider.
The highlight of the event is always the children of Tri-County, and they were there in abundance. Some thirty high school students, all recipients of an annual $4,000.00 scholarship, introduced the night by singing God Bless America and leading the 400 guests in the Pledge of Allegiance. Master of Ceremonies Steve Adubato took over from there, leading the night with his characteristic blend of passion and gentle humor. “Sister, will you please sit down?” had the crowd in stitches as Steve asked an unsuspecting nun who was caught in conversation, to take her place. Amid the laughter, the former Catholic school boy said: “I’m sorry, Sister: I just always wanted to say that to a nun!”
Two students addressed the gathering: Tecianna Ross, a senior at Montclair State pursuing a degree in Public Health with a minor in Nutrition and Pre-Med and Alessandra Veliz, a senior at De Paul Catholic High School. Tecianna, a former Tri-County scholar, spoke eloquently of the plight of inner-city children and of the help she had received: “There are many other kids out there that are in the same situation that I once was in. Many of them have amazing potential that goes unnoticed because they have no other choice but to attend failing schools. I strongly urge all of you to continue working on behalf of these students because the opportunity that is offered by this organization changed the trajectory of my life.” Next, Alessandra spoke of hope and promise: “Your generosity not only inspires me to be different, but to MAKE A DIFFERENCE. I want to come back to this dinner one day, not just as a former scholar, but I want to give back. I want to ensure that the students after me get the opportunities that I got. That is the level of commitment that your generosity has fostered in me.” The dinner guests were deeply moved by the testimony of these two magnificent young women.
In addition to the students, the honorees spoke movingly of their work with young people and also of how a great education was a key to their success not just in the workplace, but as human beings. Sr. Francis received the Lifetime Achievement Award; Walter and Irene Crum, the Making a Difference Award and John Parry, the Hall of Fame Award.
A novelty of the night, enjoyed by all, was a technology called Text-to-Pledge. By texting messages and donations, much encouragement was given to the students, the honorees and the organization itself. The texted donations ranged from $5.00 to $10,000.00. In addition to the fun, excitement and warm regards spread around the room for all to see on big screens, an additional $117,000 in scholarship funds was raised during dinner. This brought the total dinner come to $662,000.00, which will pay for more than three hundred scholarships for New Jersey youth next year.
As people left the dinner, the sense of joy, fellowship and good cheer, coupled with a desire to be part of the solution, was shared by all.
To view more photos, go to http://www.cuppekphotography.com/tricountyscholarship2013.