All Souls Quarterly Winter 2012 Article by Winnie OlsenFriday, January 20, 2012
The fog and drizzle that blanketed New York City's streets on the evening of January 17 were forgotten as soon as one entered Christie's auction house at Rockefeller Center to attend the glittering 23rd Annual Heart & Soul Gala. Over exquisite hors d'oeuvres and exotic drinks, attendees greeted old friends and made new acquaintances who had gathered there to support the vital programs that are supported by the Charitable Fund. While waiting for the evening's main event to begin - the presentation of the 4th annual Forrest Church Award for humanitarian service followed by the live auction - guests checked the more than 30 laptops that were arrayed around the room, each with a description and bid page of an item offered in the Silent Auction, which would remain open until January 31 through CharityBuzz.com.
This year's honoree at the Gala was Dr. Paul Farmer. In introducing Dr. Farmer, Carolyn Buck Luce noted that as a humanitarian, he and Forrest shared similar ideals, and that they both assumed their responsibility for service with humor, humility and grace. He was, in fact, emblematic of Forrest's admonition to "live your life so that it's worth dying for."
A physician and medical anthropologist, Dr. Farmer is a professor of global health and social medicine at Harvard Medical School and co-founder of the non-profit Partners In Health, which provides essential health services to those who are sick and living in poverty in Haiti as well as in Lesotho, Malawi and Rwanda. In his gracious remarks, he said he was honored to be presented with an award that bears the name of Forrest Church, who likewise recognized the link between service and spirituality.
As an introduction to the live auction, a video produced by Robin Bossert vividly presented the four outreach programs that were selected to be highlighted at this year's event: Booker T. Washington Learning Center, which serves 250 kids in East Harlem through its reading readiness, adolescent enrichment, college prep and summer camp programs; All Souls Monday Night Hospitality, which, in addition to serving dinner to between 285 and 300 guests each week, now provides social services; All Souls Friday Lunch, serving 18,000 meals each year to guests who are in need; and Navigators USA, a nondiscriminatory scouting program for boys and girls that was started at All Souls in 2002 and which has now grown to five chapters in New York with an additional twelve chapters around the country. It should be noted that among the other approximately fifteen community-based programs supported by Heart & Soul, are the four Girl Scout troops that All Souls runs in East Harlem, and the renowned Musica Viva concert series, which makes its home at All Souls.
Michele Jawin then introduced All Souls' own Stephen Lash, Chairman Emeritus of Christie's. He started the auction with a surprise item: Paul Farmer donated a signed copy of his latest book, Haiti After the Earthquake. After a period of intense bidding which started at $100, the gavel came down for a winning bid of $3,500. As it turned out, this was not a one-off deal - Dr. Farmer just happened to have a number of copies of his book to offer-and so an additional four books were auctioned off for the same amount. The lucky winners were no doubt delighted to learn that all but $27 of their bid was tax deductible! Other items that were auctioned off ranged from Breakfast at Tiffany's and vacations at five-star hotels, to a theatre district tour led by our own Dana Ivey and a stay at George Dorsey's "incredible Maui beach condo."