On Wednesday evening, October 24, 2007, 190 friends and supporters of St. John's Residence for Boys attended the gala at Russo's on the Bay. Brother Tom Trager, long time Director at the home, who is celebrating his 50th Anniversary as a Marianist, was the special honoree. Mr. Paul J. Garavente, the President of St. John's Residence Board of Directors, suggested the fundraising event would be an excellent way to mark Brother Tom's Jubilee and raise some financial support for the home and its program for at-risk teenagers and their families.
The celebrants included the local Marianist Community and visiting Marianists, Marianist Associates, present and past staff at St. John's, volunteers, the Rockaway Rotary Club, members of the St. John's Alumni Organization, and a half dozen of the present St. John's residents. Board member and Breezy Point resident, Ms. RoseEllen Dowdell, chaired the Journal Committee. Belle Harbor resident, Ms. Peggy DeMatteis, also a Board Member of St. John's, worked as a liaison person with Russo's and offered and solicited financial support for the event.
One of the features of the evening was a slide presentation of Brother Tom's life from the crib to present time. Mr. Gordon Haesloop, Board member and former student of Brother Tom's, put together the entertaining presentation with a variety of photos and humorous anecdotal comments.
Another feature of the evening was the special gift baskets and other prizes. Ms. Marcy Hennessey, staff member at St. John's, put together 29 very attractive baskets that were filled with the prizes and gift certificates that had been solicited by the Board members. Mr. Brian Schwagerl, Board member, was particularly active in seeing to it that the baskets were chock full of very attractive prizes. The 50/50 ticket sales raised an extraordinary $10,550.00 giving the winner, a Manhattan resident, $5,275.00. In addition to Marcy Hennessey's involvement in designing the baskets, Ms. Margaret Geissman was very successful in getting ads for the journal.
Pulling all of this together on the home front, Ms. Rita Tortorelli, did a yeoman's task coordinating all of the mail, email, phone calls, and other details in terms of reservations, journal submissions, seating arrangements, etc. She was a key factor in everything coming off as smoothly and beautifully as it did.
In his comments of thanks, Brother Tom highlighted the many groups that attended the celebration, and reflected on how they are all, in a sense, part of the “family”. He indicated that he was particularly proud of the six young men who were representing St. John's at the Jubilee. Many of the people who attended the event reflected on what gentlemen the six St. John's residents were. They received quite an ovation on their introduction. They were bursting with pride at all of the adulation and compliments they had received throughout the night. It was an occasion filled with such joy and enthusiasm; it would be very hard to forget.
Click HERE for Jubilee Celebration Photo Gallery