Celebrating service and education at the buildOn Boston Dinner
On Tuesday, June 14th, buildOn Boston supporters, students and community partners came together to celebrate service and education at the buildOn Boston Dinner. This exciting evening raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to support service learning programs that are empowering thousands of Boston youth to transform, themselves, their city and our world.
Guests were greeted at Boston’s beautiful State Room venue by buildOn student service leaders cheering and welcoming them to the event. Marc Friedman, buildOn’s Chief Revenue Officer, was the emcee for the evening. He kicked off the event by highlighting the many ways that Boston students are serving their communities. He highlighted some partnerships including The Boston Food Bank, serving those hungry and experiencing homelessness, The Boston Rescue Mission, a shelter focused on combating the opioid epidemic our nation is facing and Our Space, Our Place, a home for visually impaired youth.
The first speaker of the evening was Thomas Thermidor, a student at the Community Academy for Science and Health (CASH) in Boston.
Thomas shared how he has found the strength to push himself to excel in academics and in the community by serving others with buildOn, “I thought if I could meet people in the community and learn to serve others I could become stronger and be better able to help myself.” As an immigrant from Haiti Thomas experienced loneliness and depression as he adjusted to life in the US. He shared how he found a friend and brother in Aldair Francois, a fellow buildOn student and Haitian immigrant.
Aldair Francois took the stage to much applause as he told his story of arriving in the US only to find himself and his family on the brink of homelessness: “My auntie connected us with a woman from her church who allowed us to stay with her for 14 days while we found a place to live. I finally breathed a sigh of relief. I remember the shock I felt by this woman’s generosity. She didn’t know us, or our background, and yet, she was allowing us to live with her. This feeling stuck with me.” Aldair soon joined buildOn and found himself face to face with the same issues he had experienced: homelessness at the Boston Rescue Mission. “I knew that someone else’s generosity saved my family from the streets and as I looked around the room, I realized that I could have been there myself.” Having just graduated from CASH last week, Aldair has served over 150 hours to his community, as well as in Malawi, where he traveled, along with Thomas, to help build a school with buildOn last year.
buildOn Founder & CEO Jim Ziolkowski followed with inspiring stories of how members of the buildOn Movement have impacted millions of lives over the past 25 years, emphasizing the importance of serving together to create meaningful change.
The evening closed with a heartfelt thank you from emcee Marc Friedman. Thank you to everyone who came out to support buildOn’s work to break the cycle of poverty, illiteracy, and low expectations through service and education in Boston and around the world. We can’t wait to see you again next year!