Shepherds 20th Anniversary Gala at The Inn at Longshore in Westport on Thursday, October 11th was a time for celebration and for reflection on the accomplishments of our more than 300 student alumni and their mentors. It also served as a platform for creating a foundation for the next 20 years — as Executive Director, Dan McAuliffe noted in his opening remarks, “We are here to celebrate the past and to build for the future.”
Keynote speaker Byron Pitts shared his inspiring personal story of growing up in Baltimore and overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds to attend college and become a successful award-winning journalist. Shepherds alumni Melissa Bonilla-Sanchez and D’Vonte Chambers spoke eloquently about the role that the mentoring and support they received played in shaping their futures.
This year’s Founders Award Honorees, Tammy Taylor of Darien and Greg Dillon of North Haven, spoke of the impact that mentoring students through Shepherds has had on them and the students they have been privileged to know. Shepherds cofounder Barney Phillips of Greenwich presented the awards and Executive Director Dan McAuliffe of Darien graciously stepped in as Emcee when Hurricane Michael kept NBC weatherman Dave Price from attending.
The outpouring of enthusiasm, support and generosity was overwhelming making this Gala the most successful Shepherds anniversary event ever by a factor of two. Through the generosity of the more than 200 attendees — including guest speaker Byron Pitts — more than 15 deserving young students will now have the opportunity for a four-year private high school education, a mentor to champion them, and a better chance at fulfilling their dreams.
The needs of the Shepherds program arise beyond tuition costs. The success of the students and the Program is dependent on the passion and commitment of our sponsors, donors and mentors.
Thank you to filmmaker Gus Cantavero and WSAA, who interviewed and videotaped mentors, students and honorees, and to Bob Capazzo, Senior Photographer at Moffly Publications, who photographed the event.