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ABCD’s North End/West End Neighborhood Service Center (NE/WE NSC) fundraising celebration, Buona Sera: An Evening with Friends, raised nearly $50,000 to aid low-income and elderly residents of the North End and West End who turn to the center for assistance.

For the fifth year in a row, Ron Della Chiesa of WGBH and the Boston Symphony Orchestra performed as the event’s master of ceremonies. He played a few lines from “God Bless the Child” by Billie Holiday:

God bless’ the child,
That’s got his own
Yes the strong seem to get more
While the weak ones fade

Empty pockets don’t

The words are true, and he attested how ABCD takes care of all “children”, its seniors, families, and children – and that its vital human and educational services take care of all who seek assistance from the organization, ensuring that they do not fade away.

ABCD President/CEO John J. Drew continued in that realm with his own rousing deliverance. “There is no cash register at ABCD,” he declared.  “Our customers, our clients, do not pay. Each year ABCD serves over 100,000 low-income individuals from Boston – starting with nearly 3,000 in Head Start and Early Head Start all the way up to nearly 14,000 seniors, and many Adult Basic Education (ABE) services and job training and supportive services in between. All funds raised support these critical programs.”

“This year, not to mention these past few days, has been filled with tragic events of violence, neglect, natural disasters, political dividedness and, even surrounded by all these negative events, there are still people willing to stand up and help their fellow man.

It warms me, my board and staff to see you all here, who are people who support our cause; who give back; who volunteer; and who care about and respect others who are less fortunate. We thank you for being part of our work that we carry out each day in our agency, ” Maria Stella Gulla, NSC Director, enthused.

“Back for the 7th year! My clients and I have never enjoyed an event more. Every year we aim to try a new restaurant with a different celebrity guest. What more could you ask for, all while helping the NE/WE NSC get ready to kick off the holiday season to provide turkeys, toys, and nourishing meals for their clients!” one dinner guest raved.

The Buona Sera evening commenced with a wine reception at WilmerHale on the 26th floor of 60 State Street, followed by dinner at a table for 10 at one of several premiere North End restaurants. Each table was paired with a local celebrity – an elected or public official, sports figure, media celebrity or other well-known local personality. All who participated enjoyed a perfect fall evening (with a final hint of summer breeze) on the town, along with sparkling conversation with their celebrity host!

NSC Director Maria Stella Gulla, who grew up in the North End, noted that “since 2011 this innovative event has raised nearly $250,000 for educational and recreational programs and human services that the center offers. Here in our neighborhoods, we have hundreds of seniors who have lived in the North End since their childhood or in the case of the West End, are thrilled to come back after having neighborhood development forced their eviction in the 1950s. In both communities, we see seniors well into their 80s, 90s, and beyond.”

“Seniors and families come to our two food pantries and our hot meals; we help them access benefits and get needed healthcare. We provide translation services and fuel assistance and many other services. The funds we raise through Buona Sera are critical to keeping these services going and to launching new programs. We are on the brink of launching a van service to address the transportation needs of low-income seniors, who cannot travel between the North End and West End neighborhoods due to their physical health; construction projects; and lack of public transportation. Bay Cove Human Services (Kit Clark) will provide a weekly nine-passenger van, and we will start with transportation from the Amy Lowell and Blackstone Apartments, and gradually add North End housing sites. We have also revived exercise classes and the fall prevention program.”

“Italian Heritage Month remains the perfect time to hold Buona Sera,” said Johannah Malone, Event Coordinator and Fundraising Specialist for the NE/WE NSC. “This event exceeded our expectations, thanks in a significant part to our Fundraising Chair, Becky Mattson, Project Executive of Cottonwood Management, LLC. Over the past year, we have brought a lot of new donors and friends into the important work that we carry out in the agency and I am excited about sending them our center’s monthly newsletter. I encourage anyone who is interested to email me at johannah.malone@bostonabcd.org to join our fundraising committee. It really is a high profile event, and committee members enjoy the time spent in organizing and recruitment! Hosting the event at the same site each year cuts down on a lot of the long-term planning and details, as we are mindful of everyone’s time commitment and availability.”

We at the ABCD NE/WE NSC thank our 2017 donors for the event, some who go back seven years, and others who were “new to the table”, literally and figuratively!

We also thank our Celebrity Hosts:

Honorary Host City Councilor At-Large Ayanna Pressley; Master of Ceremonies WBGH and BSO’s Ron Della Chiesa; Senator Joe Boncore; Senator Sal DiDomenico; Representative Aaron Michlewitz; Representative Jay Livingstone; City Councilor-At-Large Annissa Essaibi-George; Boston Police Commissioner Bill Evans; Chief of Staff Heather Campisano, Boston Planning and Development Agency; Director of Development Review Jonathan Greeley, Boston Planning and Development Agency; Journalist/Television Personality Janet Wu; Chef and Owner Dare to Taste Jen Royle; Kahleil Blair “Maverick” JAM’N 94.5; and President and Founder of the Anthem Group, Chris Sinclair.  Guest of honor was City Council Vice President Sal La Mattina, who is leaving the position after 30 years of service!

ABCD’s Buona Sera wouldn’t be possible without our generous Restaurant Hosts:

Antico Forno, Artu Rosticceria and Trattoria, Asaggio, Boston Sail Loft, Cantina Italiana, La Famiglia Giorgio’s, Massimino’s Cucina Italiana, Prezza, Ristorante Euno, Ristorante Fiore, Ristorante Saraceno, and Terramia Ristorante.

Special appreciation also goes out to Wine Reception sponsors WilmerHale for hosting the reception and to Whole Foods Market for supporting expenses with a generous gift card; local North End merchants Cirace Liquors for generously donating the wine.

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