Opinion

Commentary: A great evening changing lives

Models, including local celebrities, dignitaries and those who are receiving or have received services from the Northeast Arc, walked the runway at the Northeast Arc’s 2019 An Evening of Changing Lives gala.

On behalf of the Northeast Arc, I want to express my deepest appreciation to everyone who supported our fourth annual Evening of Changing Lives held at the Seaport Hotel in Boston. It was by far our most successful event to date, raising over $700,000 to benefit local children and adults with disabilities and their families.

An Evening of Changing Lives would not have been possible without the support of our sponsors from the business community. A special thank you to RSM, Ipswich Bay Glass, Brown & Brown Insurance, New England BioLabs, and The New England Patriots Foundation for their incredibly generous support and for making the people we serve a priority.

Thank you to Turkish Airlines for providing two round-trip, business class tickets valued at over $18,000 that were awarded to one lucky raffle winner, and to the many other companies and individuals that are helping us change lives by sponsoring and donating to this event.

The evening included the presentation of the fourth annual Changing Lives Award, created to recognize the outstanding contributions of a community partner. The award was presented to Chris Mackenzie of Andover, market managing partner of RSM US LLP, for his long-standing contributions to the Northeast Arc.

An event of this magnitude would not have been the success it was without our dedicated event committee: Rich Caturano, Jansi Chandler, Mike Ferraro, John Geraci, Monica Macina Dave MacKeen, Joe Mahoney, Bob McMahon, Jeff Musman, Robb Osinski, Jim Picciotto, Beth Tauro, and Larry Zabar.

For the third year in a row, we held an inclusive fashion show featuring local celebrities and dignitaries walking the runway with someone who is or has received services from the Northeast Arc. It was an incredibly inspiring presentation hosted by our longtime ambassador, Boston media personality Kim Carrigan. Kim welcomed the following models to the runway:

George Foreman III, founder and CEO of EverybodyFights; Eric Dorflinger, representing the Northeast Arc’s recreation programs; Boston City Councilor Lydia Edwards; Claudette Miller, representing the Northeast Arc’s residential programs; Ro Ann Costin, founder and president of Wilderness Point Investments; Armand Lucier, representing the Northeast Arc’s Building Blocks, ASC and Spotlight programs; and Dr. Brian Skoto, co-director of the Mass General Hospital Down Syndrome Program, who escorted both Felicity Buonopane, representing the Northeast Arc’s Early Intervention program, and Ned Reichenbach.

Additional models included Jim Ellard, CEO and president of New England Biolabs and a member of the Arc’s Advisory Board; David McGray, who has worked at New England Biolabs for over 25 years through the Northeast Arc’s Supported Employment Program; Sinem Bozkurt, sales manager, Turkish Airlines; and Elizabeth Chaisson, representing the Northeast Arc’s residential and recreation programs.

Dr. Patrick Tutwiler, superintendent of the Lynn Public Schools and a member of the Northeast Arc’s board of directors, walked the runway with John Kolokithas, showcasing the Northeast Arc’s Autism Support Center and Touch to Talk program. Roger Berkowitz, president and CEO of Legal Sea Foods, and his wife, Lynne, escorted Heather Ekman, representing the Northeast Arc’s Discover & Design and STEP programs. Jane Steinmetz, Ernst and Young’s Boston office managing partner and market leader, accompanied Chianne Deegan on behalf of the Northeast Arc’s residential and recreation programs.

First lady of the commonwealth of Massachusetts Lauren Baker shared the stage with 2-year-old Dawson Eadie who was highlighting the Northeast Arc’s Early Intervention program. Mike Gould, who recently raised more than $10,000 while running the Boston Marathon on behalf of the Northeast Arc, walked the runway with Libby McQuarrie, who represented the Northeast Arc’s recreation and Special Olympics programs.

Julie Rainer Cummings, a longtime board member and activist for people with developmental disabilities joined her sister, Lisa Cummings, on the runway who was representing the Northeast Arc’s deaf services, shredding business, and residential programs. Sandy Patrican, President, Ipswich Bay Glass, also made it a family affair, joining his brother, Stephen Patrican, who participated in the show to highlight the Northeast Arc’s work support and residential programs. Doug Banks, editor of the Boston Business Journal, escorted Stephanie Steele, who represented the Northeast Arc’s Shared Living and STEP programs.

Finally, I want to thank the 500 people who attended and supported the work that the incredible staff at the Northeast Arc does every day to help ensure those with disabilities are leading full and productive lives. The Northeast Arc is proud to serve 190 communities across Massachusetts and the 10,000 individuals who call these communities home.

Thank you again for your support. We look forward to seeing you next year!

Jo Ann Simons is the CEO of Northeast Arc.

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