Once again, friends of the KBI gathered in Phoenix—exceeding past attendance and fundraising goals—to support our mission, programs, and those we serve, and learn more about the KBI’s work and latest initiatives.
On Saturday evening, March 3, 2018, KBI supporters gathered for the Eight Annual KBI Dinner, a festive occasion with a serious purpose: it is the KBI’s largest fundraiser of the year and a major source of support in our mission to promote humane and just immigration policies and stand with—accompany—the migrants we serve. With 440 guests, dinner attendance was greater than ever, and the event raised an unprecedented $246,000 for the KBI’s direct aid, education, advocacy, and legal programs.
After the reception and Silent Auction bidding encouraged by Frank Camacho, the KBI’s Father Samuel Lozana de los Santos, S.J. serenaded the guests as they took their seats with his guitar and a song composed especially for the evening. Auxiliary Bishop Eduardo Nevares of Phoenix offered a blessing, and the KBI’s Joanna Williams and Sister Alicia Guevara Perez, M.E. led a hand-motion “icebreaker” (an engaging therapeutic exercise performed with migrants at the comedor).
Executive Director Father Sean Carroll, S.J. then offered his remarks about the previous year at the KBI. To convey the scope of the KBI’s work to those gathered and the ways simple tasks require extra assistance for people far from home and without resources, Father Sean shared a recent conversation he’d had with a migrant at the comedor. The man’s most immediate needs included food, clothing, toiletries, and first aid, all available at the KBI. But he also needed to cash a check, the inconvenient form in which funds are returned to those detained and then deported. With the assistance of one of the volunteer organizations offering services at the comedor, the man was able to cash his check.
These are the sort of requests that KBI staff and volunteers fulfill every day—the need for a phone call, information, or other services—alongside larger-scale work such as providing meals and shelter, conducting educational programs, and advocating for immigrant rights and immigration reform. As Father Sean pointed out, accompaniment takes many forms, and in thanking everyone for their support, he reminded them that their presence was a powerful way to share the journey with our migrant sisters and brothers.
In addition, Father Sean talked about the KBI’s response to the greater numbers of separated families and deportations of long-term U.S. residents. Two new initiatives expand the KBI’s services and accompaniment—(1) the legal fellow program offering representation to asylum seekers encountered at the comedor, and (2) volunteer visits to the Eloy Detention Center, a way to ease the loneliness, vulnerability and uncertainty faced by people in detention. These were also covered in a moving video, Can You Imagine?, created by Pete Burr, Brophy’s Fine Arts Department Chair, introduced by Father Sean: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9H-i-ygk6rI.
After dinner, emcee/auctioneer Rick DeBruhl conducted a rousing Live Auction which included the ever-popular dinner prepared by Father Sean and Father Pete Neeley, S.J. Then KBI Board Chair Steve Haydukovich took the podium to present this year’s Pope Francis Award to Father William John Fitzgerald for his extraordinary support of the KBI since its inception. A retired pastor from the Archdiocese of Omaha, Father Fitz, as he is affectionately called, has been a strong voice for migrants over the years, writing online homilies (www.fatherfitz.com) and working tirelessly on their behalf. The recognition comes with the enduring gratitude of the KBI and a portrait of a migrant woman by artist Pamela Hoffmeister in acknowledgement. In his beautiful tenor voice, Father Fitz treated everyone to a song about the immigrant experience, and revealed that proceeds from his book, A Contemporary Way of the Cross, would go to the KBI.
As happens every year, the KBI Dinner Committee, co-chaired by Board member Lisa Grant and retired Board Chair Lucy Howell, outdid themselves. With final fundraising through the sale of table centerpieces from the KBI Migrant Cooperative, final donations, and the distribution of Silent Auction items, Father George V. Wanser, S.J. of St. Francis Xavier Parish in Phoenix gave a closing benediction. The evening of friendship and accompaniment came to a close, everyone gratified to come together in support of a cause close to their hearts and mindful of the crucial work that continues—today and every day—at the KBI.
Many thanks to all who donated to the Eighth Annual Kino Border Initiative Dinner and who made this successful fundraiser possible, specifically: co-chairs Lisa Grant and Lucy Howell, and the entire Phoenix Dinner Committee of Kathleen Desmond, Mary Johnson, Maddie Murphy-Larkin, Megan Martinez, Mary Novotny, Mary Permoda, Ann Rathwell, Bob Ryan, Bob Staab, Patti Thoeny, Dora Vasquez, and Karla Verdugo with KBI staff Father Sean Carroll, S.J., Deacon Javier Fierro, and Ivette Fuentes. We also thank Brophy College Preparatory for hosting the evening, and Facilities Coordinator Sherri Stephens and her maintenance team; the Brophy College Preparatory students who provided reception and dinner service, coordinated by Brophy moderators Steve Smith and José Leyba; Nackard Beverages, Caretto Vineyards, and Rene Mayer Martinez for providing libations. Thank you to artist Pamela Hoffmeister for her migrant portrait for the Pope Francis Award; artist Hilario Gutierrez for his painting, Hidden Fences; Father Ernesto Reynoso for his touching watercolor, Hope in the Desert; and other donors to the live auction—Yolie Aleman Rodrigues, Rodrigo and Diana Vela, Robert C. Wesley Jewelers, Steve and Darci Haydukovich, Lisa and David Grant, and our locally famous Jesuit chefs Father Sean Carroll, S.J. and Father Pete Neeley, S.J. Thanks to those who facilitated auction check out—Missy Grams, Michael Meaney, Greg Laverierre, Kay Ayers, Seema Mohan, Kate Cross, Maria Gore, Christine Bonow and Lizzie Manos—and to those who worked on Dinner and auction set-up—Puentes y Posibilidades from St. Francis Xavier School, Claudia Morales, and girls from Xavier College Preparatory. Thanks also to St. Patrick Catholic Community for underwriting printing services; silent auction announcer Frank Camacho; emcee and auctioneer Rick DeBruhl; Father Samuel Lozano de los Santos, S.J. for his musical accompaniment; Sister Alicia Guevara Perez, M.E. and Joanna Williams for facilitating the hand motion exercise; Auxiliary Bishop Eduardo Nevares of Phoenix for his opening blessing and Father George V. Wanser, S.J. of St. Francis Xavier Parish in Phoenix for his closing benediction; the KBI Migrant Cooperative for the beautiful centerpieces, created and purchased specifically for this event; Sierra Bonita Fine Catering for the exquisitely prepared meal; registration table helpers Gail Caretto, L’Jeanne Fairbourn, Valerie Howell, Kate Howell, Mary Johnson, Sandy LeBonte, Elaine O’Toole, and Sharon Ryan; Brophy Fine Arts Department Chair Pete Burr for the moving video of the KBI’s work at the border, Can You Imagine?; Chris Pettit and Brophy teacher Jake Kelly for taking photographs; and KBI staff and board members for their invaluable assistance. Thank you, all!