It was an opportunity to rekindle old friendships and make new ones; it was a night to remember that we are more than just a group of people who share the same zip code, but a unified family; it was a chance to acknowledge and appreciate everyone’s hard work in making the South End a better place; it was a celebration of our progress.
On March 9th, at that beautiful old bank lobby at 60 State Street, AVillage held its Fourth Annual Celebration of Progress. With more than 100 in attendance, we looked back at all of the accomplishments made in the past year, most notably in health.
The night started, led by AVillage President Marva Richards, and Interim Executive Director Marc Johnson, welcoming guests, and giving a special thanks to sponsors & leaders.
Immediately following was a fabulous dinner, catered by Chartwells; we ate endless amounts of salad, chicken, and pasta until our stomachs couldn’t handle it any longer, or so we thought. As soon as our forks dropped, and we were ready to throw in the towel, the wonderful staff came out with cakes from Dianne’s Fine Desserts.
While we were eating Boston Cream Cake, New York Vanilla Cheesecake, and other delicacies, our very own Executive Director Willie White (making a surprise guest appearance) joined New York State Assemblyman John T. McDonald III to hand out awards. Willie told the story of the late Donald S. Pangburn, an attorney who helped AVillage become a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization; but this went beyond just a lawyer-business relationship. He explained that Donald and his wife, Tulla were the most genuine and heart-filled people he had ever met; when Willie went to the Pangburn residence to discuss becoming a nonprofit, they welcomed him into their household with open arms, like a second member of the family. A standing ovation ensued when Tulla got up and accepted the Inaugural Donald S. Pangburn Award; Tulla remained up front, and helped Willie in announcing Caroline Mason, a former Board Member, as the 2017 honoree.
Afterwards came the finale- introducing the honorees for the 2017 Celebration of Progress Award. Board Member Jessica Gorman nominated, and had the pleasure, of handing her mentor, Darryl Johnson of the Center for Law and Justice, his award; Willie announced Dr. T. Gregory Dewey from Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences; Tom McPheeters awarded Stacy Pettigrew & Scott Kellogg of the Radix Ecological Sustainability Center, The Ezra Prentice Health Survey Team (Sara Adams, Akua Boakye-Yiadom, Beth Wyman, and Tina Vasquez), and the Residential Outreach Workers (Deneen Carter-El, Michele Tucker, Detrece Harris, Sylvia Jones, Tammy Miller, Fashionette Trowell, Kristina Fisher, and April Tucker), for their contribution in displaying the injustices that have occurred over at Ezra Prentice.
Although Celebration of Progress ended as quickly as it started, we at AVillage do not, for a second, take for granted what we were a part of. We would like to personally thank everyone, regardless if you attended or not, for being a part of this organization. We look forward to all of the amazing things we can accomplish in 2017, and then recollect upon at the Fifth Annual Celebration of Progress.