With a record number of KBI supporters gathering for the Seventh Annual KBI Dinner, the event moved to a larger venue, raised more funds than ever before, and sent a strong message about advocacy, inclusion, and compassion.
The yearly KBI fundraising dinners in Phoenix are always occasions for both celebration—of the continuing work of the KBI on behalf of migrants—and reflection—about the suffering faced by migrants and their families, and how we can come together to ease it. The Seventh Annual KBI Dinner on Saturday, March 25, was no exception, with education and advocacy as central themes. As a major cornerstone of the KBI’s fundraising efforts, the event exceeded all expectation by raising more than $175,000 for the KBI’s crucial programming.
The 370 guests in attendance—one-hundred more than last year!—initially gathered in the courtyard of Brophy College Preparatory, to mingle with each other and KBI staff, enjoy the donated libations, and place bids on silent auction items, which included migrant artwork, gift baskets, Mata Ortiz pottery, Diamondback and Phoenix Sun tickets, a photograph of Michelangelo’s Pietà, and more. The gentle breeze carried melodious guitar strains contributed by the talented Paul Fisko, Brophy assistant principal for ministry. As in years past, Paul led the guests into Harper Great Hall with music, where beautifully set tables were adorned with potted herb centerpieces, planted and assembled by the eighth-grade National Honor Society students of St. Francis Xavier Elementary who included touching thank you notes to those in attendance. (These were auctioned to enthusiastic bidders at the end of the evening.)
After a blessing from Auxiliary Bishop Eduardo Nevares of Phoenix, guests were invited to experience the KBI through a demonstration by the KBI’s Sister Alicia Guevara Perez and a moving video from Brophy instructor Peter Burr. Sister Alicia led everyone in a hand motion exercise she performs with the migrants at the comedor each morning, alternating right and left, and engaging the brain and body in a therapeutic way that restores a sense of lightness and laughter, and encourages connection with other participants. After the exercise, the feeling of togetherness in the room was palpable as Father Sean Carroll, executive director of the KBI, welcomed everyone and acknowledged their generous support for the KBI’s direct aid, advocacy, education, and research. (Watch a video of Sister Alicia doing these exercises with the migrants in the comedor, below.)
Peter Burr’s video, “Kino Border Initiative: The Church Without Frontiers,” built on that unity and empathy by sharing specific migrant stories told by those who had lived the experience. Many of those gathered had heard such narratives before, directly or indirectly, but for those guests new to the KBI’s bi-national work and mission, the film was particularly transformative, revealing a side to the immigration debate we rarely see in mainstream media. (Watch the video at: https://vimeo.com/206180020 .)
A highlight of the festivities was the Pope Francis Award, honoring the long-time service and dedication of KBI supporter Frank M. Barrios, also board president of the Phoenix St. Vincent de Paul Society, a local historian and author, and an active community leader. As in previous years, the award was a striking portrait of a migrant by Tucson artist Pamela Hoffmeister, an acknowledgement of how seeing faces and hearing stories helps create and strengthen the bond among all of us. Indeed the dinner guests were surrounded by migrant photographs and images from the KBI, testifying to our common humanity.
Throughout, emcee Rick DeBruhl kept the program moving along, taking on auction duties after dinner. Live auction items included a day of golf with private lessons; a painting by international artist Hilario Gutierrez; and two prizes so popular, they were auctioned twice— a round-trip airplane ride for dinner in Sedona; and a KBI weekend with dinner prepared by Fathers Sean and Pete at the Nogales Jesuit residence and a night at the Tubac Golf and Spa Resort. As a last-minute addition, KBI staff brought along another exquisitely rendered painting by a migrant artist depicting a father comforting his child on the migrant trail. Father Dan Sullivan, S.J., pastor of St. Francis Xavier Church in Phoenix, offered a benediction to close the evening.
With immigration issues at the fore, Dinner Committee co-chairs Darci Haydukovich and Debbie DiCarlo planned and orchestrated this remarkable event, sensitive to the role it plays in advancing education and encouraging advocacy for migrants. Along with seven devoted committee members and 37 table captains, they filled the hall with supporters, raising both awareness and funds. Though it is one evening, this level of commitment affirms the work and extends the mission of the KBI all year long.
Many thanks to all who donated to the Seventh Annual Kino Border Initiative Dinner and who made this annual fundraiser possible, specifically: Darci Haydukovich and Debbie DiCarlo, in their second year of co-chairing the event, and the entire Phoenix Dinner Committee of Linda Replogle, Lisa Grant, Mary Johnson, Mary Novotny, Patti Thoeny, Bob Ryan, Lucy Howell, Dora Vasquez, Javier Fierro, Mary Permoda, Maddie Murphy-Larkin, Pete Burr, Paul Fisko, Rose Circello, and Father Sean Carroll, S.J. We also thank Brophy College Preparatory for hosting the evening; the Brophy College Preparatory students who provided reception and dinner service; Wren House Brewing Company for the beer and an anonymous donor for the wine; The Society of St. Vincent de Paul for the Pietá photograph; artist Pamela Hoffmeister for her migrant portrait for the Pope Francis Award; Rick DeBruhl for covering emcee and auctioneer duties; Brophy assistant principal for ministry Paul Fisko for his musical accompaniment; Auxiliary Bishop Eduardo Nevares of Phoenix for his opening blessing and Father Dan Sullivan, S.J. of St. Francis Xavier Church for his closing benediction; Patti Thoeny and the eighth-grade National Honors Society of St. Francis Xavier Elementary and their advisor and teacher Cari Sheedy for the lovely centerpieces; Dora Vasquez for additional centerpieces; St. Francis Xavier Elementary for the donated linens; Sharko’s for the fine catering; registration table helpers Valerie, Katie, and Jenny Howell, Lori Reents, and Christabella Parra; Brophy teacher Pete Burr for the moving video of the KBI’s work at the border; Maddie Murphy-Larkin for taking photographs; and KBI staff and board members for their invaluable assistance. Thank you, all!
NOTE: Check out the Cronkite News coverage of the event at: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Ktgc4LdiRC8