In the picturesque setting of the Cipriani on Broadway, A Chance in Life, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing housing, education and leadership development to at-risk youth, held its 77th Annual Gala.
Opening the evening’s events was President Gabriele Delmonaco, who introduced, in addition to Honorees Debra Stabile, Basil M. Russo, Cesar Claro and Suzan Kereere, the guests of honor representing the Holy See, Cardinal Pietro Parolin.
“We are proud to be able to present our programs this evening through the lens of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. This framework, established in 2015, defined 17 key areas of focus for the international community. Through our programs around the world, we are addressing complex global challenges such as access to education, health and wellbeing, gender equality, nutrition quality and economic opportunity” Delmonaco said.
“We continue to advance the positive youth development model first established by our founder more than 77 years ago. Not bad for a full-time staff of eight! Truly, this work would not be possible without the incredible support, advocacy and pioneering leadership of those gathered here tonight,” Delmonaco continued.
Next up was Robert Iommazzo, A Chance in Life Chairman, and the awardees. Cesar Claro has been a staunch supporter and a formidable connector in bringing the Village of Staten Island to life; Suzan Kereere is just the latest in a long and generous line of Fiserv supporters; Basil M. Russo works tirelessly on behalf of the Italian-American community and has been essential in amplifying the voice of the Italian community; Debra Stabile is a longtime supporter who has championed A Chance In Life.
Finally, Cardinal Pietro Parolin accepted the Peacebuilder Award.
“The Holy See,” Parolin recalled, “has diplomatic relations with more than 180 states around the world, as well as several international organizations. Relationships cultivated with the goal of preserving human dignity in the world, promoting peace and resolving conflicts.” “The Holy See has no ambitions for power or territory, but places its focus on multilateral work with its partners, such as the United Nations.”
This was followed by a comment on the war in Ukraine, already condemned by Parolin himself last week at the UN General Assembly–a situation in which the Vatican continues to work to promote dialogue and diplomacy. “War destroys not only the defeated, but also the victors. It destroys everyone.”
Also speaking during the Gala was Giampietro Lepore, a currently retired entrepreneur who in 1951, when he was only 12 years old, joined the Boys’ Republic, the precursor to A Chance in Life, where he still volunteers today.
“I came back after my wife passed away,” he said movingly, “In the boys we welcome today I see myself and my friends in the postwar period, I am like their grandfather.”
Some of the kids are Ukrainian, fleeing the war, but in order not to frighten them, they are being told that their parents stayed behind in their homeland to prepare their homes for their return. The funds raised during the Gala will also help them.
They smile, even though they have nothing. With A Chance in Life, they have one more hope.