Celebrating Service at the buildOn Boston Dinner

Last night, hundreds of members of the buildOn Movement came together at Boston’s Mandarin Oriental to celebrate the impact of buildOn in Boston, the United States and around the world. The celebration raised $364,000 to support buildOn’s mission of breaking the cycle of poverty, illiteracy and low expectations through service and education.

buildOn Boston Development Director Clark Crowley-Bunyard served as emcee for the evening. He kicked off the Boston Dinner by welcoming guests and recognizing the buildOn partners who have served alongside our students and made the evening possible, including GE, Jones Day, John Hancock, and our newest partner Ernst & Young. “At buildOn, our students are overcoming the odds, fighting statistics, and becoming the next generation of leaders here in Boston.” Clark said. “They are identifying the issues impacting their communities and they take action to make the change through service.”

678913256(Above) Sonya Carson, a student at the Community Academy of Science and Health, shares her personal buildOn story at the Boston Dinner.

One of those changemakers, Sonya Carson, a junior at Boston’s Community Academy of Science and Health (CASH), took the stage next to share her buildOn story. “To me, service means healing,” Sonya said, as she shared her experience serving at the Boston Rescue Mission. “When buildOn students serve, we give people hope which is the key to healing—you need to believe that you can get better for it to happen. I know that service means hope to our community—hope.”

buildOn Founder and CEO Jim Ziolkowski followed with a look back at two-and-a-half decades of breaking the cycle and shared inspiring stories of buildOn students empowered by service and education. Following dinner, he gave an inspiring tribute to buildOn partner GE for 25 years of service, including building more than 30 schools globally and an amazing experience in Boston with our 36 Hours program at CASH high school. The tribute include a special recognition of GE Chief Finance Officer Jeff Bornstein who took the stage next to share why immersing directly with buildOn is so vital to GE.

678913806(Above) buildOn Founder & CEO Jim Ziolkowski shares inspiring stories of buildOn students empowered by service and education at the Boston Dinner.

“The reason I am such a fan of the Corporate Partnerships, the treks and the 36 Hour immersion programs is they create a force multiplier,” Jeff Bornstein said. “If just three or four of the dozen people that participated in the CASH high school experience catch the bug, continue to participate and spread the message – that’s a huge win… that matters because eventually they will bring three or four more people to the buildOn movement, and so on. This is how you change the world… one person at a time.” (Read Jeff Bornstein’s full speech)

678913764(Above) GE CFO Jeff Bornstein shares why immersing his company in the buildOn mission has been so important to GE at the Boston Dinner.

Jeff Bornstein then invited his student partner in GE’s 36 Hours experience, Christian Mendez to the stage. After expressing how much it meant to him to have Jeff and the GE team serve with him, in his community, Christian shared how buildOn helped him overcome violence and negativity in his neighborhood and what service means to him. “When I started volunteering with buildOn, it showed me I could affect so many people’s lives in so many ways,” Christian said. “Life is bigger than just me. It makes my day to serve other people. Helping other people makes me feel alive. This is what God put me on this earth for—to help other people. Service gives me hope, and makes me appreciate things more in life. Without this, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.”

678913848(Above) buildOn student Christian Mendez shares his emotional buildOn story at the Boston Dinner.

Following a successful appeal, in which our guests stepped up with passion to support buildOn Boston, buildOn students led the guests guests in a heartfelt cheer of “WE ARE BUILDON!” to bring this incredible evening to a close.

678913234(Below) buildOn Boston students brought the evening to a close with a heartfelt cheer of “WE ARE BUILDON!” | (At Top) buildOn student Christian Mendez and GE CFO Jeff Bornstein share an emotional moment following Christian’s speech at the Boston Dinner.

Photos: Getty Images