By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer | Published March 17, 2011
Hundreds of friends of Catholic Charities Atlanta came to support its fourth annual gala at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre.
Some $310,000 was raised for the work of the agency.
Two new initiatives for the nonprofit were announced, one to aid families in need and the second, a leadership program.
Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory saluted the women and men who filled the large ballroom for their financial generosity.
“Each year, (the gala) has grown. It has grown in the spirit of enthusiasm of the people for the works of Catholic Charity.”
In his remarks, Archbishop Gregory talked about the work the agency does and why he suggested a name change four years ago. The agency changed its name from Catholic Social Services to Catholic Charities Atlanta to highlight its mission of service, he said.
“We give (the clients) our love and in return God blesses us in so many ways,” he said.
In 2010, the agency reported serving 22,409 clients, a 63 percent increase in one year, and received 52,725 calls for help, a 27 percent increase. Its revenue was $5.7 million with expenses of $5.6 million, according to the agency.
More than 500 people attended the gala. The fundraising silent auction was helped with new wireless technology. People carried smart phone-like devices from BidPal to encourage more giving on items like a round of golf at historic East Lake Golf Club, a round-trip flight on a private plane for five people, and University of Georgia football memorabilia signed by retired coach Vince Dooley.
Dooley and his wife of some 50 years, Barbara, entertained the room with colorful, witty anecdotes about family life.
They received the Archbishop John F. Donoghue Award for their many years of service and philanthropy in the archdiocese and particularly to Catholic Charities.
Also honored was Msgr. R. Donald Kiernan, pastor-emeritus of All Saints Church, Dunwoody, who was also given the Archbishop John F. Donoghue Award.
The event chairs were Gary and Diana Shertenlieb, parishioners at St. Catherine of Siena Church, Kennesaw. John Nee is chairman of the Catholic Charities Atlanta board.
Gary Shertenlieb said the organization is gaining popularity as people become more aware of its mission.
“I think prior to the last several years, many Catholics or other Georgians didn’t appreciate or understand the work and needs of Catholic Charities. I think Catholic Charities was just a second collection to many. I believe due to better communications, strong leadership and events such as the gala, Catholics throughout North Georgia are developing a meaningful appreciation for Catholic Charities,” he wrote by e-mail.
Catholic Charities has launched a new program, called the Emergency Assistance Fund. Its goal is to stabilize clients already involved in programs and help them aim at self-sufficiency. Some $16,000 was raised for this new program.
Kelly Kener, the senior director of development and marketing for Catholic Charities Atlanta, said the new effort will allow clients to focus on more comprehensive services without fear of losing their homes or worrying about how to feed their children or meet basic needs. It is not meant to be a stand-alone service or direct assistance fund, she said.
Also, a special leadership class will form in the fall. It will focus on building leadership skills that integrate Catholic faith into the workplace and members will join a network of other business leaders to raise funds for the organization. A participant must raise at least $1,500 for the nonprofit.