ABCD’s North End/West End Neighborhood Service Center (NE/WE NSC)’s annual fundraising event Buona Sera: An Evening with Friends raised nearly $40,000 to aid low-income and elderly residents of the North End and West End who turn to the center for assistance.

For the seventh year in a row, Ron Della Chiesa of WGBH and the Boston Symphony Orchestra performed as the event’s master of ceremonies. “Welcome to Buona Sera 2019!” he greeted the crowd. “ABCD NE/WE NSC serves the hidden poor of the North End and West End neighborhoods, both largely impacted by gentrification. Thank you for ensuring that the most vulnerable residents in these two communities do not get left behind.”

L-R Ron and Joyce Della Chiesa, Andres Molina (ABCD Board and ABCD NE/WE NSC Advisory Board Chair), and Johannah Malone (ABCD NE/WE NSC Fundraising Specialist).

ABCD President/CEO John J. Drew continued in that realm with his own rousing deliverance. “The affordable North End I used to live in is no more,” he declared.  “Seniors who have worked their whole lives are forced to choose between paying the rent, buying food and medicine, and heating their homes. It shouldn’t be this way. 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. Thank you for joining with us and investing in ABCD to make their lives better.”    

 L-R Monee Neal (Neighborhood Client Services Coordinator ABCD Mattapan), John Drew (President/CEO ABCD), and Emily Shea (Age Strong Commissioner).

NE/WE NSC Director Maria Stella Gulla thanked all those at the WilmerHale reception effusively, especially WilmerHale Attorney Katelyn O’Brien for her sponsorship, and addressed the crowd to highlight the need for the center’s educational and human services.

Maria Stella Gulla (ABCD NE/WE NSC Director)

“The ABCD NE/WE NSC will remain vigilant to the needs of the low-income residents of the North End/West End and Beacon Hill and your participation in our Buona Sera event invigorates us to continue to serve our vulnerable population with compassion and professionalism. All funds raised through Buona Sera will support two food pantries and a hot meal program, basic needs assistance, translation, fuel assistance, holiday programs, and more to help residents age in place. Buona Sera is critical to keeping these services going and to launching new programs. For example, we have retained the services of a volunteer art instructor who blends art history and the teaching of techniques and exercise classes proven to foster seniors’ emotional and physical well- being and rejuvenate their spirits.”

John Drew (President/CEO ABCD) and Maria Stella Gulla (ABCD NE/WE NSC Director)

Maria Stella Gulla, who grew up in the North End, noted that since 2011 this innovative event has raised over $350,000 for educational and recreational programs and human services that the center offers. Here in their neighborhoods, they have hundreds of seniors aging in place who have lived in the North End since their childhood or in the case of the West End, who are thrilled to come back after neighborhood development forced their eviction in the 1950s. In both communities, they see seniors into their 80s, 90s, and beyond. 

“Back for the 9th year! My clients and I have never enjoyed an event more. Every year we try a new restaurant with a different celebrity guest. What more could you ask for, all while helping the NE/WE NSC kick off the holiday season to provide turkeys, toys, and nourishing meals for their clients? I can’t wait for next year!” 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 mild fall evening on the town (with a final reminder of the string of 80-degree days that week), along with sparkling conversation with their celebrity host!  

“This event continues to exceed our expectations, thanks in no small part to our Fundraising Chair, Becky Mattson, and Principal of Sagebrook Development. It really is a high profile event, and we are enthusiastically heading up preparations for year 10. Stay tuned!” – Johannah Malone, NE/WE NSC Event Coordinator and Fundraising Specialist. 

Maria Stella Gulla (ABCD NE/WE NSC Director), Johannah Malone (ABCD NE/WE Fundraising Specialist), and Becky Mattson (Principal, Sagebrook Development, and ABCD NE/WE NSC Fundraising Chair).

The ABCD NE/WE NSC thanks their 2019 donors for the event, some who go back nine years, and others who were “new to the table”, literally and figuratively! 

They also thank their Celebrity Hosts: 

Master of Ceremonies WBGH and BSO’s Ron Della Chiesa; Senator Joe Boncore; Senator Sal DiDomenico; Representative Aaron Michlewitz; City Councilor-At-Large Annissa Essaibi-George; City Councilor Lydia Edwards; Director Brian Golden, Boston Planning and Development Agency; Director of Development Review Jonathan Greeley, Boston Planning and Development Agency; and Interim Director of Planning Lauren Shurtleff, Boston Planning and Development Agency. 

ABCD’s Buona Sera would not be possible without their generous Restaurant Hosts: Antico Forno, Aria Trattoria, Artu, Assaggio, Boston Sail Loft, Il Molo, La Famiglia Giorgio’s, Prezza, Ristorante Euno, Ristorante Fiore, Ristorante Saraceno, TABLE by Jen Royle, and Terramia Ristorante.  These restaurants provide first-class food and service and are among the best in the neighborhood!

Special appreciation also goes out to Wine Reception sponsors WilmerHale for hosting the reception; Star Market for a generous donation for the meal program and a gift card for supporting expenses; Cirace Liquors for generously donating the wine and a gift basket; and Crudo for a raffle prize.

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