The Fourth Annual KBI Dinner for the Kino Border Initiative raises both funds and awareness.
By: Roxane Ramos
The sun was shining and the mood was celebratory as KBI supporters gathered in the courtyard of St. Francis Xavier School in Phoenix, catching up with old friends, making new ones, and having the rare chance to greet Fr. Sean and the rest of the KBI staff who had traveled from Ambos Nogales to join in the festivities. Even so, the attendees of the Fourth Annual Kino Border Initiative Dinner were all mindfully aware that the festivities and fundraising were for a very urgent and distressing cause—providing aid to deported migrants, educating about the reality of the border, and advocating for immigration reform.
That first dinner four years ago was an exercise in resourcefulness and tenacity—no budget, donated space at St. Paul’s, and volunteer chef and committee member Ron Meyer barbecuing for a crowd of 60. The event raised $18,000 for the KBI. By last year, those numbers rose to 140 attendees and $65,000, with an extra $5,000 raised that very evening for a new, more permanent aid center. This year’s dinner, held on Saturday, March 29, drew even more supporters—a record 220—and raised over $140,000, more than doubling the amount raised last year. Local philanthropist Joe Anderson spurred the fundraising momentum by matching the first $50,000 raised.
Like the previous dinners, the Fourth Annual KBI Dinner was chaired by Lucy Howell, assisted by a complement of very dedicated committee members. The event was emceed by Phoenix news anchor and reporter Frank Camacho, and musicians Paul Fisko and Naomi Cardenas provided entertainment. Local chef Vincent Guerithault catered the dinner while students from Brophy College Preparatory served the sit-down meal. Each table was adorned with centerpieces comprised of digital artworks, “wordles” created by St. Francis Xavier School’s seventh and eighth graders in response to a talk given by Fr. Sean about the work of the KBI. Sale of the wordles added another $700 to the funds raised that night. The KBI’s first Pope Francis Award, a portrait of a migrant by Pamela Hoffmeister, was awarded to Joe Anderson and accepted for him by Fr. Dan Sullivan, pastor of St. Francis Xavier.
But despite the art and music, the food and good feeling, the highlight was hearing Fr. Sean’s comments and viewing a video about the KBI’s work. It was a culminating moment, reminding everyone why they were there. As Fr. Sean thanked the KBI staff, volunteers and many supporters, he acknowledged those brothers and sisters who were not there, our migrant neighbors at the border. “I see God present in the KBI’s efforts and in all of you,” he said, “as we promote policies that respect and honor the dignity of the human person, of every human person.”