The 9th Annual Catholic Charities Gala provided the opportunity for the community to come together and celebrate the work of Catholic Charities while also providing vital funding to foster continued growth. The theme of the evening was “Be the Light” and the committed individuals who supported the Catholic Charities Gala certainly were a light for their community. Through the generosity of 400 donors, the event raised over $257,000 to support Catholic Charities programming across the Diocese of Raleigh.

Over 330 guests gathered at the Crabtree Marriot in Raleigh and shared in a delicious meal, friendly company, and danced to music provided by the band Push Play. WRAL reporter and anchor, Ken Smith, acted as master of ceremonies for the evening which featured remarks from engaging guest speakers who helped attendees connect with the work of Catholic Charities.

Bishop Luis Rafael welcomed guests and delivered an opening blessing. He spoke about how the support of those gathered that evening helps families in need, “You make it possible for them to have something, that in other ways, was almost impossible. To have hope in something different and better. I would like to thank all of you for that generous gift of your heart.”

Lisa Perkins, Catholic Charities Executive Director, then addressed the attendees. She started with the quote, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that has.”

She continued to highlight the great accomplishments of Catholic Charities over the past year, including responding to Hurricane Florence, the opening of a new coordinated homeless intake center, Oak City Cares, and the opening of a new Durham Community Food Pantry.

Vivian Johnson, a former Catholic Charities client and founder of the non-profit Extended Grace NC, was the guest speaker and shared her journey. She walked guests through her experience with Catholic Charities when she received groceries for her family from Catholic Parish Outreach Food Pantry.

She explained, “I remember every time we visited the food pantry, the volunteers were always wonderful and gracious, from the time they began the intake process to when they loaded the trunk of my car with groceries. Somehow they would always manage to give us a cake for one of my son’s upcoming birthday.”

After Catholic Charities was able to help Vivian through her challenging times, she was able to find stability in her life to turn around and start giving back to her community through her own non-profit, which provides free showers to individuals experiencing homelessness, Extended Grace NC, Inc.

Following the dinner program, the evening flowed into a giant celebration. The band Push Play provided lively entertainment which saw the dance floor filled with attendees for hours. As the evening dwindled, guests continued pushing for one more song from the popular band.

Last year, over 68,000 individuals were assisted through the disaster services program, emergency assistance program, immigration services program, and services in support of the family program. Funds raised at the 2019 Catholic Charities Gala will allow Catholic Charities staff and volunteers to continue caring for our brothers and sisters in need with love and compassion.

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