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BRAINTREE -- Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Boston is planning to hold its annual Spring Celebration in a virtual format on May 19.
Usually, this fundraiser takes place at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum and consists of a cocktail reception, dinner, and award ceremony. Clients, donors, volunteers or staff share inspiring testimonies, and Catholic Charities presents its Justice and Compassion Award.
This year, to promote their community's safety and well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic, the event will take place online rather than in-person.
Presented by the Cummings Foundation, the virtual event will consist of a 30-minute program, featuring speakers and videos highlighting the work of Catholic Charities.
Catholic Charities of Boston serves over 175,000 people annually through programs that provide basic needs, immigration and refugee assistance, workforce development, and family and youth services.
"Despite the risks, our teams on the frontline show up every day to care for residents and provide food to those in need. This dedication and commitment to serve is shared by everyone at Catholic Charities as we realize that in times of crisis is when Catholic Charities is needed most. We are truly a safety net for those most vulnerable in the community. The ability to help and make an impact motivates our team every day," Kevin MacKenzie, board chair and interim president of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Boston, said on May 12.
Patrick Hewett, Catholic Charities' vice president for advancement, said they have been "blown away" by their staff's resiliency as well as "the generosity and commitment of so many donors and volunteers over the last month."
He said most of their programs have remained operational during the pandemic, with the exception of those that were mandated to be closed, such as childcare and after-school programs. Some programs, such as adult education and telehealth services, have been made available online.
There has been an increased demand on the organization's food pantries, shelters and other services as a result of financial stress in the wake of the pandemic and stay-at-home orders. Between March 13 and April 10, the number of people seeking food pantry services more than quadrupled at Catholic Charities locations in Dorchester, South Boston, Somerville, Brockton, Lowell, and Lynn.
"It's been harrowing to see that explosion in need, but really inspiring to see thousands of people responding with donations, people coming forward looking to volunteer in our food pantries. Our staff have been absolutely incredible in stepping forward and keeping programs running," Hewett said in a May 7 interview.
The Justice and Compassion Honoree for this year's Spring Celebration is Sister Norma Pimentel, the executive director of Catholic Charities in the Rio Grande Valley.
MacKenzie said he was able to spend some time with her in February when she was visiting Boston.
"While she will not be able to be here in person, we are fortunate to have her share her passion and spirit for the amazing work she does through video during the program," MacKenzie said.
Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Boston's Virtual Spring Celebration: Compassion Now will take place at 7 p.m. on May 19. Registration information can be found at ccab.org/Spring-Celebration-2020.