Monthly Newspaper • DIOCESE OF BRIDGEPORT

An Extraordinary Celebration of Catholic Education

DARIEN—Foundations in Education’s annual Gala and premiere fundraising event was held in-person on May 5, 2022 at Woodway Country Club in Darien.

The Gala Committee, chaired by Bob and Barbara Scinto, worked together for months to plan an exciting and colorful event to celebrate Catholic education and to raise visibility and support for Foundations in Education. More than 220 gathered in support of the Foundation’s mission to strengthen and transform the mission of Catholic education in the Diocese of Bridgeport.

At their first in-person gala since 2019, Foundations surpassed the fundraising goal, raising over $1.3 million. Proceeds support Foundations in Education and most notably the Bishop’s Scholarship Fund tuition assistance, which strives to make Catholic education more affordable for families.

Guests enjoyed a gourmet meal and a lively program including a live auction and a “raise the paddle” to support student scholarships, all while reconnecting, enjoying each other’s company and supporting a great cause. The event also included an awards presentation to distinguished contributors to Catholic education. The 2022 Gala Honorees included:

  • Steven Cheeseman, for his inspiring leadership as Superintendent of Schools throughout the pandemic and commitment to transforming students and Catholic education.
  • Barbara and Peter Ripp, for their extraordinary philanthropy and personal commitment to Catholic education.
  • Mutual of America Financial Group, for their exemplary commitment to Catholic education.

“Our honorees give of themselves all while embodying Christ’s love in action,” shared Holly Doherty-Lemoine, Executive Director of Foundations in Education. “Their contributions, both individually and collectively, have transformed the lives of countless students and teachers throughout Fairfield County,” Lemoine added.

The evening began with members of the Children’s Choir at Saint Mary School in Ridgefield leading guests with their angelic voices from the cocktail reception to the grand ballroom. Under the direction of Miss Emma Giorgio, the students sang “Let There Be Peace on Earth” and “Amazing Grace.”

The highlight of the evening was the testimonial of student speaker and former Bishop’s Scholarship Fund recipient, Luka Silva. Luka shared a memory with guests that he says changed his life forever, “My elementary school principal told me that the power of becoming extraordinary lies within me, if I were to find God through all of life’s obstacles.”

Luka thanks God every day for having grown academically and spiritually under the guidance of Catholic professionals and the Diocese of Bridgeport. “I wholeheartedly believe that I would not be the man I am today without the Catholic school system that has instilled in me valuable lessons and progressive values,” he added.  Luka’s education journey started in St. Theresa School in Trumbull and continued to Notre Dame High School in Fairfield. He is currently pursuing International Business and Finance degrees at Fairfield University.

During the live auction, World Champion Auctioneer Bobby D of Inspiring Hearts Fundraising drove up bidding as guests raised their paddles on a variety of donated items including:

  • Private reception with Bishop Frank Caggiano
  • All-expense-paid trip for six for one week to Lido Key, FL that includes lodging at a magnificent 12,000 square-foot home right on the coast
  • Lake George getaway for fourteen that includes a main house, boathouse on the lake, a guest cottage, direct waterfront access and use of 2 kayaks and a canoe
  • Round of golf with 2-time Super Bowl Champion and former New York Giant quarterback  Eli Manning and Giants V.P. Frank Mara at Winged Foot Golf Club
  • Broadway Adventure Package that includes two orchestra seat tickets to a top tier Broadway performance
  • New York State of Mind Package that includes a sunset cruise and dinner for twelve, four tickets to NY Yankees, NY Mets and NY Giants, and wine pairing dinner for eight at Il Palio Restaurant.

Auctioneer Bobby D found a donation level for all guests to raise their paddle, from $60,000 to $100 in support of Bishop’s Scholarship Fund and its special initiative, Leaders of Tomorrow. The Leaders of Tomorrow program grants scholarships to students who have demonstrated financial need and are identified by their principals as possessing strong academics, good character and leadership potential.

In this past year, Foundations in Education awarded nearly $2.5 million in Bishop’s Scholarship Fund tuition assistance to nearly 1,200 students. The Leaders of Tomorrow program awarded $337,000 to 66 elementary school students. Additionally, $142,000 was awarded to teachers for their creative projects through the Innovation and Leadership Grants Program.

Foundations in Education offers special thanks to the many donors and sponsors of the evening whose generosity assures hundreds of students will receive assistance this year. Lemoine stated, “We are grateful to the very loyal and generous donors who believe so strongly in our mission. Your contributions quite literally transform lives! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for continuing your support of our students and teachers.”

Foundations in Education relies on the extraordinary generosity of donors to make their programs possible and the promise of a Catholic education a reality for families across Fairfield County. For more information or to find out how your donation can transform lives, visit www.foundationsineducation.org.